Rice industry disappointed at exclusion from Korea Free Trade Agreement

5 Dec 2013 2:21 PM -

The Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia Inc. (RGA) is disappointed with today’s announcement of a free trade agreement (FTA) with Korea which excludes rice. 

RGA Executive Director, Ruth Wade said the rice industry has worked closely with the Australian Government to develop comprehensive trade agreements including FTA’s with Korea, Japan and China and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).  

“Today’s announcement that the Government has signed an FTA with Korea which excludes rice is particularly disappointing,” said Ms Wade.  

“Australian rice growers are recognised as the most efficient in the world. This announcement punishes Australian growers by preventing expansion into this important market.”  

“We have strongly supported the Australian Government’s efforts to finalise these trade agreements but only if they are comprehensive, and do not exclude any agricultural products.”  

“This is an FTA in name only. Trade agreements with exclusions are not free trade agreements,” Ms Wade said. 

Ms Wade said the Australian rice industry would be concerned if this were to create a precedent for other important trade negotiations that are currently taking place, particularly the multi-lateral TPP negotiations.

“Given that rice has been excluded in the Korea FTA, our industry is now calling on the Australian Government to ensure that we have access to other important north Asian markets, particularly China,” Ms Wade said. 

“Although Australian rice should have access to the Chinese market under World Trade Organisation rules we have been waiting for protocols to be finalised for more than 6 years. This should now be completed as a matter of urgency.”

A copy of the full media release can be found here