Business

Central Queensland to benefit from international trade deal

Professor John Rolfe from CQ University. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Professor John Rolfe from CQ University. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison

THE world's largest regional trade agreement, between 12 countries and covering 40% of the global economy, has been sealed eight years after negotiations began.

For one of the most export-focused regions in Australia, the Trans Pacific Partnership is likely to have a very positive effect on Central Queensland.

The TPP stands to eliminate more than 98% of trade tariffs and remove import taxes on about $9 billion of Australian trade.

Resource economist and CQUniversity Professor of Regional Economic Development John Rolfe (pictured) said trade agreements were generally very good for Central Queensland's export focus.

"This is good for agriculture, mining and, to a lesser extent, tourism," Prof Rolfe said. "CQU already has a strong profile in international education, so anything that frees up access for international students is helpful."

The Fitzroy and Mackay regions produce about a third of the agriculture in Northern Australia and Prof Rolfe says there is a lot of potential for growth.

He cautioned that the agreement was more than just new markets and building good relationships with overseas partners was important to make it work.

"What's missing is the higher prices and the trade volumes to underpin major new developments… free trade agreements will provide confidence for new investment and new developments," he said.

"So we need to give investors exposure to the region and interest them in joint ventures.

"People who have been here to visit or studied here are more likely to invest here."

Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry had pushed for a better deal for sugar growers who will receive a $13 million a year sales boost under the partnership.

"I am very disappointed we couldn't get more, but the blame for that lies firmly with the obstructionist United States sugar lobby, which has tried everything to stonewall the Australian industry," Ms Landry said.

"We support Obama with just about every global conflict in which the US asks for help, and yet they throw sand in our faces when it comes to returning the courtesy through opening up their agricultural trade markets.

"On one hand they say they want open trade with the Pacific, yet on the other hand, they are tight-fisted protectionists."

The Australian Parliament is likely to consider the deal before the end of the year. It would be effective by mid-2016 at the earliest.

Trade partners

The TPP is being signed between the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam

Topics:  john rolfe, tpp



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