Australian exporters set to benefit from TPP


The real benefits of the Trans Pacific Partnership are just beginning to be understood by Australian businesses who export overseas, but the prospect of new markets and cutting red tape is already being welcomed.

The owners of a Melbourne seafood business is already calculating how the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal will benefit their export business.

Con Andronis and George Kaparos started Clamms Seafood in Yarraville, south-west Melbourne, in 1988, selling fish over the counter. Now its products are in demand across Asia.

"Our seafood is much higher quality, our waters are much cleaner, our product is just that much better," said Mr Andronis.

Exports are a small percentage of their business, but they hope the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) could change that.

"Exports are probably about eight to 10 per cent. If we can build that up to about 20 per cent we'd do really well out of that," said Mr Kaparos.

The TPP covers the sale of items ranging from resources to intellectual property, and for agriculture, the deal could be worth up to $3.7 billion.

Among the many benefits it promises to bring, is the elimination of 98 per cent of all export tariffs, lifting export quotas for products including rice and dairy to Japan and better access to markets in south-east Asia.

It is the access to more markets that is of most concern to Clamms Seafood manager George Faltiska.

"Any increase into those countries would be a real benefit immediately, so we'd be going from zero per cent to whatever per cent we could sell," he said.

The TPP is also designed to simplify international trade by standardising rules and procedures. A benefit particularly when your goods are perishable.

"It's a question of reducing risk for us,  because our product is fresh. If it gets held up for any length of time in customs, it reduces the value," he said.

But not all industries are completely happy with the outcome of the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Sugar growers had hoped to make a big impact on the US market, by lifting the export quota by an additional 700,000 tonnes, but their wishes fell way short - at 65,000 tonnes. 

"That equates to the output of one moderate-sized sugar mill in Australia and we have 24 mills," said Australian Sugar Milling Council chairman John Pratt.

And there is concern smaller retailers could face increased pressure operating in the free trade market.

"It may be that some businesses are better off than others in the end and that's part of trade liberalisation, whereby companies move to countries where they are better off and it may mean some jobs are lost," said Tania Voon, international economy expert from the University of Melbourne.

Professor Voon said, however, the deal is a win for efforts to increase pay and conditions for workers overseas.

"Labor standards are actually made part of the agreement so that all the countries have to agree to those standards and abide by those standards. If anything there is a greater requirement to maintain those standards thanks to this agreement."

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