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Tariff cuts for farmers start in new year

Australian farmers will be able to better harvest new markets with the world’s largest free trade agreement coming into effect on January 1.

The 15-nation FTA – known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership – covers 30 per cent of the world’s population and 29 per cent of its GDP.

It will provide a single set of rules and lower tariffs for the signatories.

A series of lower tariffs and greater market access will also be rolled out under the next stage of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership – commonly known as the CPTPP – which come into effect on the same day.

The CPTPP’s full implementation will eliminate almost all tariffs between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Mexico’s tax on barley will be scrapped and tariffs on certain beef products will be halved.

The threshold for tariff rates on cheese going into Canada and Mexico will also be increased.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says the CPTPP will benefit more than $5.5 billion of Australian agricultural exports.

“Free trade agreements will continue to stimulate investment and demand for premium produce as we expand our export trade and recover from the global COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“They provide a further boost for our farmers who are propelling the agriculture sector towards anticipated new production records in 2021-22.”

Further changes will also be introduced under the Indonesian and South Korean FTAs.

Tariff rate quotas in Indonesia will increase for live cattle, citrus and feed grain, while South Korea will drop tariffs on beef to 16 per cent and on lamb to 2.25 per cent in the ninth round of cuts under the agreement.

Rice, dairy, sugar and sorghum tariff rate quotas will also be increased in Peru from January 1.

Australian farming exports were expected to hit a record high of $61 billion, the minister said.

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