The Federal Government has announced a free trade agreement with Korea which will see the elimination of tariffs on potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and a number of other horticultural products.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott made the announcement in Parliament yesterday afternoon, stating that Korea was Australia’s third-largest goods export market and would be worth “$5 billion between 2015 and 2030, and boost the economy by around $650 million annually after 15 years."
The announcement has served as welcomed news to potato growers around the country as they will be able to access the Korean market also immediately without the restriction of tariffs.
AUSVEG, the peak industry body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers states that $7.4m of vegetables including $6.3m of potatoes were exported to Korea in 2012-13, figures which the group expects to increase dramatically as a result of the FTA.
“Potatoes will see an immediate elimination of tariffs into Korea, which means that growers will be able to reap the benefits of the new agreement in the early months of 2014,” said AUSVEG spokesperson, Hugh Gurney.
“The establishment of a free trade agreement with Korea is a momentous outcome for the Australian horticulture industry and will create new opportunities for Australian growers to supply first-class produce to Korea’s citizens,” he said.
In addition, the new FTA will also include cherries, dried grapes, fruit and vegetable juice, apricots, mangoes, peaches and plums – providing valuable opportunities for Australian growers to access the key Asian market.
“With our proximity to the region and capacity to supply Asia with fresh and safe produce, this announcement could not have come at a better time for Australian growers,” said Gurney.
The FTA will now enter a legal verification process and must be approved by Cabinet in both countries. It will then be signed off in a formal ceremony and come into effect around the middle of 2014.