Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, has used an address to members of the National Diet of Japan yesterday to advocate agricultural trade liberalisation and the importance of agriculture in ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations.
Minister Ludwig said Australia and Japan are natural partners in the Asia-Pacific region, with shared market-economy ideals and a long history of cooperation.
“I welcome the Japanese Government’s agreement to resume our Free Trade Agreement negotiations following an understandable interruption caused by the March tsunami,” Minister Ludwig said.
“Australia continues to encourage reform of global agricultural markets through multilateral trade liberalisation.
“Bilateral and regional agreements, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), will reduce tariff and other barriers to trade and investment.
“Australia welcomes Japan’s announcement that it will begin consultations on joining the TPP and looks forward to membership of the partnership expanding over time to other Asia-Pacific economies.”
Minister Ludwig said Australia’s trading relationship with Japan is very important to Australia’s agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries and has brought enormous benefits to Australian exporters and Japanese consumers.
“Japan is an important trading partner for a range of Australian sectors, especially agriculture,” Minister Ludwig said.
“Japan is Australia’s largest export market for beef and dairy products and is also a key market for Australian wine.
“The friendship between our two countries is long established and strong, and Australia will do all it can to ensure our close trading relationship with Japan continues to grow into the future.”
The Gillard Government will continue to pursue an FTA with Japan, which will benefit Australian farmers and the regional communities they live in.
“Australia’s agricultural exports contribute more than $35 billion to Australia’s strong economy, while supporting more than 300,000 jobs in regional Australia,” Minister Ludwig said.
Minister Ludwig is visiting North Asia as part of talks on agricultural trade. Prior to his 10-13 December visit to Japan, Minister Ludwig visited China from 7-10 December, and is currently in the Republic of Korea, where he will visit from 13-14 December.
For photos from the Minister’s North Asia trip, please contact Melissa Patch 0418 734 413 or Katana Smith 0459 813 574.