Fruit growers: We need China-Australia trade agreement
In light of wavering commitment to the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Australia’s largest organisation representing fruit growers, Voice of Horticulture (VOH), has spoken up in support of finalising the FTA promptly.
“To not support the FTAs, and in particular the China FTA, is effectively limiting employment growth, and the huge export potential of Australian horticulture,” says VOH Chair Tania Chapman.
Horticulture is Australia’s third largest agricultural sector with a Gross Value of Production of $10 billion per year. Moreover, horticulture is the largest employer in agriculture with over 60,000 employed.
“An important strategy to grow this employment is to export our produce overseas, because there is a huge opportunity there that extends us beyond our relatively small domestic market,” says Tania. “We have made some progress in recent years with citrus, almonds, table grapes etc., but trade barriers and protocols limit our growth.
“Recent FTAs with Japan and South Korea and, potentially, the China FTA can be real drivers for horticultural growth.
“This growth will require more skilled workers on farms and in packing sheds, transport, logistics, and on-farm quality control. It will also require more staff in export businesses both in Australia and in the destination countries to undertake promotions, sales and quality control.” ■