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Beef industry hopeful of Korean FTA

REPRESENTATIVES of the beef industry hope installation of a new government will finally bring a South Korean free trade agreement (FTA).

South Korea Taskforce spokesman Stephen Kelly said he was encouraged by the high level of engagement by the new government on a Korean FTA.

It was reported this month that Prime Minister Tony Abbott was attempting to seal a comprehensive deal within 12 months.

"Bilateral FTAs are vital for the advancement of the Australian beef industry and there is none more important than South Korea, where the industry suffers significant and increasing tariff disadvantages compared to competitors who have already secured FTAs," Mr Kelly said.

Australia's major competitor, the US, has an FTA with Korea and its tarriff stands at 34.67%, while Australian beef faces a 40% tariff.

"Under the Korea-US FTA, the tariff on US beef is being eliminated over 15 years and, at January 1 next year, US beef will have an 8% tariff advantage over Australia," he said.

In 2012-13, Australia exported 137,695 tonnes of beef worth $704million to South Korea and the Australian market share stood at 54%.

AgForce Cattle board president Howard Smith said new agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce had indicated it was high on his list of priorities.

"We'd be certainly reminding them that we'd like to achieve the equivalent to what the Americans have been given. We would hopefully get our tariff front-loaded (so) we start pretty much where the Americans are now.

Topics:  beef cattle exports free trade agreement livestock


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