Senator Matt Canavan, Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry talking to Central Queensland beef producers
Senator Matt Canavan, Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry talking to Central Queensland beef producers

BIG BEEF: Can new trade tariffs boost CQ beef?

Central Queensland's beef industry is reaping the benefits of free trade agreements put in place by the Federal Government and it is expected tariff cuts which came into effect on January 1 will further support the region's producers.

They are accompanied by free trade agreements as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP or TPP-11) links trade between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam which came into force on December 30, 2018.

The agreements apply to Queensland's frozen, fresh and chilled beef exports, an industry that already reaped $5.4 billion in 2018-19 with frozen products the third merchandise export earner for the state in 2018-19.

Will Wilson, Central Queensland beef producer and chair of the Agforce Cattle Board said the reduction of tariffs had been shown in the markets and were helping farmers mitigate the effects of the recent drought.

Farmers inspect Beef Cattle on offer before Auction at the Gracemere Saleyards near Rockhampton. Photo Lachie Millard
Farmers inspect Beef Cattle on offer before Auction at the Gracemere Saleyards near Rockhampton. Photo Lachie Millard

"When you look back over time, the seasons haven't lined up like this before," he said

"Something that has lined up well for us this time is that the markets have been strong and that's made a massive difference for us."

"As producers, we've been beaten pillar to post and we really need to look at ways that we can secure supply for people accessing (international) markets to keep supply going in."

Queensland Senator and Resources Minister Matt Canavan believed Queensland's beef exports had a bright future.

Under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, Chinese tariffs on Australian beef exports fell to a range of 4.8 to 10 per cent on 1 January 2020 with the expectation to have them eliminated in 2024.

"Under our free trade agreement, China's volume trigger for possible safeguard measures increased to 180,000 tonnes from 1 January 2020," Senator Canavan said.

China is the second largest consumer of beef in the world behind the US.

Despite growing trade tensions between China and the US, Senator Canavan said there was no American pressure on Australia to increase tariffs on China, but had opened up Australia to US competition and its strong-arm trade tactics.

"The one thing the Federal Government has been concerned about is pressure from the US on other countries to buy more US products as part of a favour or deal to the US," he said.

"All beef products around the world should be able to compete equally and may the best products win.

"When large countries are pressuring other countries with favours - that's not fair to smaller countries like Australia - we just ask that we have an open and free trade environment that gives our beef producers a fair go."

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said robust trade deals for Australian beef had a direct impact on CQs economy and hoped they would mitigate the effects of the recent drought.

"While dry seasons have hurt the industry across the board, the opportunities presented by Australia's expanding network of free trade agreements provides some light at the end of the tunnel," she said.

A Grazier the Gracemere Picture: Jack Tran
A Grazier the Gracemere Picture: Jack Tran

Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd claimed FTAs and tariff reductions appeared to have fostered a healthy industry, even in the face of drought.

"Our beef exports are on the up and up. Just one example is our exports to China, which increased by 8 per cent in shipped weight last year, despite the ongoing impact of drought," Mr O'Dowd said.

According to Federal Government figures, Queensland provided more than $1 billion worth of beef into Korea - Australia's fourth largest market- between 2018-19.

Australia-Korea tariffs will be cut to 21.3 per cent this year and are scheduled to be eliminated in 2028.

Chilled or frozen Queensland beef to Japan yielded $1.5 billion in 2018-20.

Japanese tariffs will fall to 25.8 per cent by April 2021.

The Australian government aims to improve Australian-European trade relations to get Australian beef into European markets.

Live export trade agreements with bipartisan support are currently in the works between Australia and Indonesia which Senator Canavan expects will positively impact trade out of Port Alma.

Port Alma Shipping Terminal.
Port Alma Shipping Terminal.

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