TPP to shaft Australian farmers

By Leith van Onselen

With the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement already shaping-up as a bad deal for Australians, who face higher higher prices for pharmaceuticals and digital goods, it has now been revealed that US President Barack Obama is refusing to slash agricultural tariffs and import quotas, thus excluding Australian sugar and beef farmers from realising benefits. From Farm Weekly:

As the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations between 12 countries enter their final stages, sources involved said the United States was taking a protectionist view to the politically sensitive agriculture sector, ceding to intense lobbying by domestic farm groups…

A person familiar with the discussions said the US was taking a particularly “mercantilist” view on agriculture. Mercantilism is broadly defined as ensuring that the wealth of a country is created by having trade surpluses and is this often associated with protectionism.

In contrast, pro-free trade countries like Australia and New Zealand, which slashed their tariffs in the 1980s, generally believe that their economies and consumers benefit from cheaper and better imports and that foreign competition is good for the economy…

Australia was burned badly in the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA), when the Howard Government stupidly agreed to include extensions to both patent and copyright terms, which has raised the cost of pharmaceuticals and copyrighted materials.

At the same time, access to US agricultural markets was heavily restricted under the AUSFTA, with large chunks of agriculture carved-out altogether, draconian price-based safeguards introduced protecting US horticulture (see Annex 3A), as well as complicated product ‘rules of origin’ numbering hundreds of pages.

Now, it looks like another Coalition Government is set to make the same mistakes again, granting the US further intellectual property and copyright protections for its pharmaceutical, technology and television/film entertainment sectors, without reciprocal arrangements for Australian farmers.

The question now is: will trade minister Andrew Robb have the cajones to walk away, as former trade minister Mark Vaile should have done with the AUSFTA, or will he sign a deal as a face-saving political exercise?

Given the amount of political capital invested by Robb in the TPP, I suspect the latter.

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  1. “TPP to shaft Australian farmers”

    … but of course. What did you expect? The US AG sector is notorious for protectionism. And Australian trade negotiators are notorious for rolling over for almost anything.

    Our farmers don’t stand a chance against the US if this goes through. It’s obvious!

    At the end of this all, EVERYONE will be living inside of 5 major cities in Australia, with the highest house prices in the world, and the world’s highest debt levels.

    I hope you’re proud, Australia! You voted for this year after year after year.

    • Dud, the Robbsfeld is just running to script. We wouldn’t expect anything else and haven’t for a generation. That’s when the politicians realised there were no votes left in the bush. At least our kids will be in one of your five cities, as none of them want this life. Our average age is over 50, and we have the highest suicide rate of any occupation.
      This is no country for an old (whinging) farmer.

      • What’s the odds US farmers are donors to the Liberal Party? After all they were going abroad for funding…

    • +1 Dudley. Beef prices went back to twenty year levels courtesy of these dumb shits setting up dodgy free trade deals. Food production in Australia is fucked and many are clearing stock in the live trade – most will get out like Kidmans so they can clear their debt. While residential properties go through the roof my rural property value is going backwards. Food bowl of Asia my arse!

  2. Most Auz beef sold into Asia. If Australians are not subjected to US meat products our medical costs may decline yipeeeeeee!

  3. “…US President Barack Obama is refusing to slash agricultural tariffs and import quotas, thus excluding Australian sugar and beef farmers from realising benefits….”


    No surprises there – Australia already has the benefits of unilaterally reducing tariffs on imported goods.

    None of our trading rivals is interested in signing a trade agreement with Australia to improve the access of their goods to Australia as there are already few restrictions beyond quarantine on their exports.

    What they want from an Capital Export Facilitation agreement (FTA is simply misleading) with Australia is

    1. The freedom to export unproductive capital to Australia without limit to make manipulating exchange rates easier. Remember that when our trade rivals drive up the $AUS by buying hundreds of billions of our government bonds, our big bank residential mortgage related IOUs and our land and other capital assets – like Japan Post buying Toll, it has the effect of imposing a massive tariff on all Australian industry and workers.

    2. Australia to increase the value of their exports by agreeing to extend intellectual property protection. All that copyright enforcement and extended protection for US and other foreign intellectual property is simply about boosting their income from exporting IP to Australia.

    In return they make a bunch of crappy promises that they may at some future point slightly reduce some of their explicit tariffs and quotas on Australia cheese and meat or other exports, that they will then either not honor explicitly or not honor effectively through the use of myriad other non-tariff barriers. Hi Thailand!

    ONLY a fool like Mr Andrew Robb would sign up Australia to the recent FTA agreements and the TPP.

    Those agreements simply do not make any commercial sense for Australia to enter. Those agreements in practice simply increase our costs, impose an exchange rate tariff on our production and produce little additional income.

    The only Australians who benefit are those who make a buck from importing consumer goods and facilitating capital flows (the FIRE Sector and their flunkies) and who are prepared to buy lots of advertorial coverage and seats at fund raising dinners.

  4. IF this TPP turns out to be as bad as it sounds, I really hope some future leader or mob just steps in and confiscates everything anyone who ever supported this owns, and puts them in solitary forever. At the very least. They deserve maximum retribution.

    Are there any voices of reason suggesting this TPP isn’t going to be as bad as it appears? I sure hope it’s not worse considering not everything was leaked.

    Are there any options for some kind of class action lawsuit on the grounds of acting against national interest, treason, deception etc?

  5. Robb has to walk away as gaining access for sugar into the US was the central and misguided quid pro quo of giving up sovereignty; should that be excluded by the Golf-Handicapper-in-Chief, Robb has no other choice.

    • Nothing more lucrative than selling sugar to a bunch of fatties. Robb’s argument will be the lack of the sugar deal will “ultimately lead to improved health outcomes for our American brothers and sisters”.

  6. Crocodile Chuck

    Hilarious. Gaining the US as an importer of AUS sugar was the raison d’ĂȘtre for the TTP in the 1st place, as conveyed to us by the ArchTreasonous Andrew Robb.

    What’ll he think of next?

  7. Australia was burned badly in the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA), when the Howard Government stupidly agreed to include extensions to both patent and copyright terms, which has raised the cost of pharmaceuticals and copyrighted materials.

    On the upside (possibly the only one), we did get the E3 visa, which is a fairly easy way for anyone with a degree to abandon this sinking ship for the land of the free.

    • yup, thank the gods that my daughter had an E3 avenue open that got her a great job matched to her skills in LA…….and at almost twice the pay she got as a consultant (at a international firm) in Sydney.

      Just watch as more and more of the ‘best and brightest’ up stakes …… it’s really pretty awful but there you go, what to do

  8. “Now, it looks like another Coalition Government is set to make the same mistakes again,…”

    Hmm, you’re assuming it was a mistake.

    • I agree with your comment. The clowns that run this country are merely puppets of the degenerates in Washington. It is hard to explain why elected ‘Australians’ want to damage their own people. There must be something in it for them. The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) is also a bad deal.

  9. You really have to wonder if there is some sort of corruption going on for someone to want to sign such an obviously bad deal.

    • … somebody benefits (I’ll give you a clue, it’s not you or me, or the general public).

      • Not just Australia, it’s a bad deal for the American public as well – it’s just naked rent seeking.

  10. Welcome to 21st century fascism. Mussolini would be proud, and cabinet ministers involved in this deserve his fate.

  11. Given the language used by PM Tony Abbott upon signing the FTA with China and Japan, the TPP is a forgone conclusion and that Labor will rubber stamp the process. The treasonous Mark Vale who sold out Australia with AUSFTA, has found himself a nice seat on a coal mining company board busy destroying the food bowl of Liverpool Plains.

  12. so coalition is repeatedly screwing up our farmers and yet farmers continue vote for them

    this is called free media

    • HahahahaloloLOLOL! And rural people keep voting coalition! Good doggies!

      Everyone in Australia has voted over and over again for shit sandwiches for years, and now that they’ve arrived and people are forced to eat them, they’ll vote for more!

      Why? Because they’re stupid and they STILL think the shit sandwiches are intended for others.

      Ha ha ha ha!

      • it has nothing to do with stupidity but with being informed. I bet less than 1% or rural population (same in cities) knows about these details in TPP. Media is working fine to distract from real issues by serving us Kardasians, … and other non-issues like budget surplus or gay marriage.

      • people want whatever they are told they want
        why people didn’t want reality shows 20 years ago? because none told them they want them back then

  13. You must realize that Australia is not a nation. We’re a collection of individuals whose purpose is to get richer. Some would argue that that’s all people ever really are or have been anywhere, anywhen. At least 50% of our population was either born overseas or has a parent born overseas. This means that they can leave whenever they want. This means that 50% of the population doesn’t really have to think about how to make a better nation. If it gets too bad, they can move on. Signing the TPP, like the FTAs with the US, China and others, is merely symptomatic of a population and a government whose priority is not the needs of Australians but the needs of the 50% (and growing) who need to move money, assets and family around the globe.

    • @robUSA – afraid my rugby days are well behind me but thanks for the link……..more than time I had a break from business and nothing but business.

      See you at a game/gathering – thanks again