DIVERSIFYING Australia’s trade and investment profile has several advantages, GrainGrowers CEO David McKeon believes.

GrainGrowers lodged a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth, a parliamentary body chaired by MP George Christensen.

“There are… disadvantages to being reliant on any one market. The key disadvantage is the cost imposed when dominant markets are significantly or totally closed to Australian exports unexpectedly,” Mr McKeon said.

“China’s unfounded decision to impose anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Australian barley exports demonstrates how exports concentrated on one market can impose major costs when market access is constrained.

“Similarly, any development that reduced access to the EU market for Australian canola would be of significant concern to our growers, with the EU representing 70% of Australian canola exports by value.”

Mr McKeon said reliance on a key market also increased vulnerability to increased tariff or non-tariff barriers, for example India’s decision to immediately increase the tariff on pulses in December 2017 which had, he said, “immediate impacts on prices and devalued much of the investment in development of those commodities in Australia”.

“Increasing competition from lower-cost competitors can also undermine an investment in a key target market,” he said.

“For example, in the case of wheat, Australian growers are seeing their exports to key markets challenged by low-cost producers from the Black Sea Region and Argentina.

“Trade agreements between key markets and competitor countries also present a competitive risk, especially when a competitor nation secures more favourable terms of trade.”

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Mr McKeon said the advantage of market concentration was it increased the ability of the grains sector to target investigation and understanding of key markets.

“It is important that government continue to work effectively with industry and adequately resource an ambitious agenda to deliver enhanced trade and market access outcomes,” he said.

“Like the Australian grains industry’s approach to streamline, focus and ensure effective resourcing of trade and market access activities, it is equally important that government efforts be well coordinated across various agencies, well resourced, and focussed on the delivery of tangible outcomes for Australia’s key industries, such as grains.”

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