Australia’s sugar industry has stepped-up its campaign against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact, lobbying MPs to block the agreement unless substantial sugar access is achieved. From last night’s ABC Lateline:
EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: As the final moments tick down, Australian sugarcane growers have joined the fight, urging MPs to reconsider [the TPP]…
ANDREW ROBB, TRADE MINISTER: Sugar’s always difficult in a lot of these countries, but I haven’t resolved that, but I can tell you it’s the one that I’ve made the most noise about and I still am, but it’s on the table for resolution in this last round.
MATT CANAVAN, LNP SENATOR: I think it’s about time that Australia and other developing countries stand up to Washington and Brussels, who spend trillions of dollars protecting their farmers and corrupting international trade in agricultural markets.
TOM IGGULDEN: Just like President Obama, Tony Abbott’s facing opposition from within his own ranks to the deal. A bloc of Queensland Coalition MPs and senators is pushing the Trade Minister to force a concession on sugar or back away from a handshake.
MATT CANAVAN: And so we don’t have to do a deal. We have quite a strong economy and export quite a lot, thank you very much, under current trade agreements and trade arrangements. But unless there is some quid pro quo for the many tariffs and protections we removed on manufactured items in the last few decades, why would we do a deal?…
TOM IGGULDEN: The sugar industry and its representatives in Canberra [are] frustrated at the three trade deals the Abbott Government’s already signed in the region.
MATT CANAVAN: Sugar’s got nothing in China, nothing in Japan, nothing in Korea. It’s already had three strikes. But we were promised and have been promised that the next multilateral trade deal will deal with agriculture and specifically sugar. So Australian producers expect that sugar would be dealt with.
TOM IGGULDEN: It also missed out when the Howard Government signed a free trade deal with the US a decade ago…
TOM IGGULDEN: Just how far the supporters of the sugar industry in Parliament are prepared to go in opposing the TPP is uncertain. Labor’s likely to back the deal, despite internal opposition of its own, making parliamentary resistance futile. And the Trade Minister’s hands are tied. He’s unlikely to trash an entire deal to accommodate the demands of just one industry, making realistic options limited.
MATT CANAVAN: What we do next, well I can’t predict that or forecast that, only that I’ll always and everywhere do what’s best for my constituents and I’ll talk to them before I do anything in Canberra.
US President, Barrack Obama, has already stated that the US won’t slash agricultural tariffs and import quotas as part of the TPP, thus excluding Australian sugar and beef farmers from realising benefits, just as it did under the Australia-US FTA. So it looks like the sugar industry’s pleas will once again fall on deaf ears.
With both the Coalition and Labor set to back the TPP, Australia is destined to implement a dud trade agreement that will strengthen patent and copyright protections for US pharmaceutical and digital industries at the expense of Australian consumers/taxpayers, whilst also introducing risky investor-state dispute settlement provisions that could permit foreign firms to sue Australian taxpayers if/when the Government legislates in the national interest.
Bend over and watch as your political leaders sell you out to US corporate interests.
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