Dairy council says trade must become a priority

By Country News

The next federal government must commit to opening trade opportunities, says the nation’s peak dairy industry body.

The Australian Dairy Industry Council has outlined several trade priorities in a new election platform, including instigating a trade deal with the United Kingdom as it seeks to exit the European Union, defending the dairy industry’s interests in an Australia-EU free trade agreement and urgently ratifying trade deals with Indonesia and Peru.

The group also wants better industry outcomes to be pushed as part of existing trade talks with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Taiwan, Pacific Alliance, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and India.

The ADIC is calling for a new UK-Australia trade deal that makes product quotas a transitional measure to free trade within five years and provides the same specific quota access into the UK that Australian dairy already receives into the EU.

‘‘International trade is essential for the growth of our industry,’’ ADIC chair Terry Richardson said.

‘‘Increased market access promotes demand for Australian products, which helps support farm gate milk returns and profitable industry growth.’’

Mr Richardson urged both sides of politics to maintain a firm trade stance, especially during negotiations over a free trade agreement with the EU.

The ADIC has warned that the local dairy industry could face losses of up to $650million each year if Australia is forced to accept and implement strict labelling rules, called geographic indicators, as part of the deal.

‘‘These trade negotiations should allow both Australia and the EU to capitalise on an improved commercial relationship,’’ Mr Richardson said.

‘‘But we need to ensure this deal frees up the trade relationship rather than creates technical barriers such as geographic indicators.’’