Chair of Cattle Producers Australia (CPA), Dr Paul Wright is calling on Minister Birmingham to stand firm and, in the absence of an interim market access arrangement, say no to any discriminatory allocation of the proposed European Union (EU) changes to the 481 Grain Fed Beef Quota Access which CPA understands has been made.
Dr Wright said “CPA has written to the Minister for Trade, Simon Birmingham to emphasise the importance of this vital market to cattle producers across Australia. Valued at $200 million this market plays a significant role in maintaining a solid price for cattle. If the tariff-free quota is lost the flow-on affects will likely be to the serious detriment of cattle producers.”
As was speculated, the EU Council is seeking to hand 35,000 tonnes directly to the United States of America (USA) leaving only 10,000 tonnes to be shared amongst 4 countries. In reality this would leave the remaining quota commercially unviable for Australian participants.
Under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules the EU cannot open a new quota for one country unless it’s part of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which this is not. The Legal requirement is that it must be open to all countries who qualify and any amendments to the quota requires the EU to get agreement from Australia.
Dr Wright said, “it is therefore fundamental that the Australian Government acts in the best interests of Australian cattle producers. A special deal done by the EU on this quota in favour of the US would appear to contravene WTO rules and consequently set a dangerous precedent.”
Dr Wright said that the expectation is that the European Commission, which administers the rulings set by the European Council, will deal fairly with Australia’s access and adhere to the stringent requirements for product supply with an even-handed approach. “We’d expect that trading rules for USA cattle producers and feedlots would be the same as applies to Australia in its European Union Cattle Accreditation Scheme (EUCAS). These include: only animals raised on EUCAS accredited properties; only animals fed in EUCAS accredited feedlots; the EUCAS requirement for individual animal traceback capability on all animals slaughtered for the EU market; and the EU requirement that beef be derived only from cattle not treated with hormone growth promotants (HGPs)”.
“Serious investment has been made by cattle producers to meet these requirements and substantial losses would be incurred if favouritism was bestowed on the USA in market access arrangements. The trading reputation of the EU will be tarnished if quota favouritism is offered to the USA,” he said.
Australian cattle producers, including EUCAS accredited producers, appear to have been sidelined as this vital issue has developed, again highlighting the essential requirement for full and responsive cattle industry representation which is presently so conspicuously lacking.
During this week of ANZAC day remembrances Australian producers urge the EU Commission to contemplate the profound contribution which Australians have made to the freedoms currently enjoyed by the countries comprising the EU and that the Commission demonstrates its commitment to the fundamental Australian ethic of a “fair go”.
Dr Paul Wright
Cattle Producers Australia (Implementation Committee)
“Woongarra” Taroom Qld 4420
Phone 07 4628 6185 Mobile 0438 286 185