Rice industry extremely disappointed at exclusion from Japan trade agreement

8 Apr 2014 10:44 AM -

The Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia Inc. (RGA) is extremely disappointed with last night’s announcement of a trade agreement with Japan which excludes rice.

RGA President, Les Gordon said the rice industry has worked closely with the Australian Government to develop a range of options for inclusion in this agreement which would have delivered commercial benefits to our industry.

“Last night’s announcement that the Government has signed an agreement with Japan which excludes rice is particularly disappointing.  Even more disappointing is that the Australian Government seems unable or unwilling to even acknowledge rice in any statements about the agreement,” said Mr Gordon.  

“Australian rice growers are recognised as the most efficient in the world.  This announcement punishes Australian growers by preventing expansion into this important market for our high quality specialty rices and our value added rice food products.”

“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.”

“Given that rice has been excluded in the Korea FTA and the Japan Trade Agreement our industry is calling on the Australian Government to ensure that we have access to China.  The same cultural sensitivities do not apply in China and they already import more than 6 million tonnes of rice annually,” Mr Gordon said.

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

Copy of media release available here