Farmers’ $1bn Pacific trade deal boost

Farmers are looking forward to having more money in their pockets as a result of tariff cuts under an historic Pacific trade deal.


The agriculture sector is one of the biggest winners of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership with new market access or tariff cuts for red meat, dairy and rice.

The National Farmers Federation expects it will return $1 billion to farmers overall.

“With farm tariffs removed over the coming decade, ultimately it’s more money in Australian farmers’ pockets,” chief executive Simon Talbot told ABC radio.

But canegrowers aren’t happy they missed out on sending up to 700,000 tonnes of sugar to the US but only got approval for 65,000 tonnes.

Lobby group Canegrowers described the outcome as bittersweet, thankful for a compromise uplift of $16 million.

“That’s not to be sneezed at, but I would be less than truthful in saying we are overall disappointed in the outcome,” chairman Paul Schembri said.

Health workers are relieved there were no changes to the five-year data protection for biologic medicines, made from genetically-engineered proteins derived from human genes.

If the government agreed to the US demand to extend that period, expensive treatments for cancer and other immune conditions would have meant a hit of hundreds of millions of dollars to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme each year.

“Agreeing to longer monopolies would be an economic mistake and a health policy disaster,” Public Health Association of Australia Michael Moore said in a statement.

“No deal would make a compromise on access to affordable medicines worth it.”

Innovative drug makers were disappointed, saying Australia’s five-year data exclusivity provision lagged behind global competitors and would stifle innovation.

Medicines Australia said Australia would miss out on jobs and tax streams from missed medical breakthroughs.