AUSTRALIAN exporters of milk, honey, beef and carrots are among those set to benefit from the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

That’s the view of National Farmers Federation chief executive Tony Mahar who this week joined trade minister Simon Birmingham in Jakarta for the signing ceremony.

“IA-CEPA will deliver improved market access for live cattle, feed grains, beef, sheepmeat, dairy, sugar, fruit, carrots, potatoes and honey,” Mr Mahar said.

“Indonesia is the world’s biggest importer of Australian wheat and Australia is Indonesia’s largest supplier of red meat. Australian dairy products and sugar are also highly valued by our neighbour.”

Some features include:

  • Immediate elimination of a 5% tariff for milk and cream. This is on top of the immediate elimination of 5% tariff for grated or powdered cheese;
  • Elimination of a 5% tariff after 15 years on Australian honey;
  • Tariff on carrots immediately cut to 10% from 25% for 5000 tonnes per year; tariff further reduced over time, down to 0% after 15 years for an unlimited volume.

Mr Mahar also reflected the benefits for Australian grains, saying international competitors were increasingly challenging Australian agriculture’s market share in Indonesia, including wheat from the Black Sea and red meat from the Americas.

“In many instances, IA-CEPA will strengthen Australia’s role as the preferred supplier to the burgeoning south-east Asian economy,” he said.

“For example, IA-CEPA will significantly grow the quota for Australian cattle to be exported with duty free access for 575,000 head of live male cattle per year, growing at 4% per year to 700,000.”

Mr Mahar said carrots were at the forefront of the agreement.

“The tariff relief represents an extra $5 million to $10 million to Australia’s fresh vegetable exports per annum,” he said.

Mr Mahar said it was up to the Australian Parliament to ratify the agreement and some segments of the union movement have already expressed concerns.

“It is a matter of significant national importance that free trade agreements, like IA-CEPA, some eight years in the making and the on-foot, Peru-Australia FTA, enjoy bipartisan support and rapid passage through both Houses,” he said. “In the face of drought and floods, it is vital that the future interests of farmers are not compromised by short-term partisan politics.”

Queensland agriculture minister Mark Furner (a Labor MP) also welcomed the deal saying it would be “a boon for exporters of Queensland agricultural products”.

“Our efforts to capitalise on those opportunities will mean more jobs in a stronger Queensland economy,” Mr Furner said.

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner was also effusive.

“Strengthening relationships and business ties with Indonesia, one of our largest trading partners, is essential to improving access for Territory businesses to the vast markets to our north,” Mr Gunner said.