FTA will stimulate growth

30 Oct, 2003 07:00 PM
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WA dairy exporters have welcomed Australia's free trade agreement (FTA) with Thailand and the possibility of more deals to come.

Benefits for dairy from the Thai deal include a guaranteed quota for skim milk powder, which will increase each year, and a huge market potential for cheese.

The value of dairy products traded between Australia and Thailand has ranged from $100 million to $150m annually.

Challenge Dairy Co-operative chairman Larry Brennen said the FTA provided huge export opportunities.

"Any FTA is going to help the dairy industry," he said.

A reduction in the tariff on dairy products exported to China was a major lure in Challenge's joint venture with Chinese dairy company Beijing Sanyuan.

"The Sanyuan deal is putting product predominantly into northern China at the moment, but we have an eye on other parts of Asia as well," he said.

He said WA had the production potential to cater for new markets.

Challenge was committed to growing its business and would gladly accommodate more suppliers as export opportunities increased.

Peters and Brownes (P&B) export manager AK Chng said the full benefits of the FTA were yet to be established, but Thailand was a lucrative market.

"We are already trading with Thailand by importing ice-cream, but their support obstacles have hampered exporting," he said.

P&B exports ice-cream, cheese, malt and cream to Asia, predominantly Japan and Singapore.

Mr Chng said P&B would like the Government to pursue multi-lateral agreements such as one with the Association of South East Asian Nations.

Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) deputy chairman Paul Kerr said the FTA would provide an improved commercial environment that would allow trade on a more secure, long-term basis.

"We will be able to develop the market in a planned fashion and introduce all Thais to this important food group," ADIC chairman Allan Burgess said. "This will not only be good news for the Australian dairy industry, but will open up opportunities for Thai cheese manufacturers who will be able to take advantage of growth in the market."

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