Chinese free trade deal unlocks opportunities: Pitt

Minister for State Development, and Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham.
Minister for State Development, and Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham.

CHINA'S emerging middle class delivers a new round of opportunities for the Darling Downs, with state and federal governments challenging producers to step up to the plate.

Delivering the AccessChina'16 Ag in Asia conference in Shanghai, Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Keith Pitt said the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement unlocked opportunities for producers to secure stronger market share in the Asian economic powerhouse.

"ChAFTA better enables Australia to supply - through preferential tariffs - the primary produce that China demands now and into the future," he said.

"And with an emerging middle class, the ability of regions like Toowoomba to quickly bring high-value crops and other agricultural products into this market will create a great deal of new opportunities."

However, Mr Pitt refused to explain which agricultural commodities his government prioritised in developing ChAFTA protocols to further free up trading relations.

"I don't want to pick favourites," he said.

"We will be working through a priority list."


Food Leader Australia CEO and AccessChina'16 project leader Dr Ben Lyons said the key to achieving government change in relation to Australia's trade was at the business level.

Dr Lyons said developing commercial relationships and allaying concerns Australia's exports would overrun China's domestic agricultural markets, was critical to trade success.

"They don't want to hear that a rich country like Australia - and we are a wealthy, first-world country - comes and floods their market," he said.

"They don't realise we only feed 60 million people a year.

"Develop commercial relationships - the Chinese will motivate their government, just like we're doing, and you'll get the two parties to the table and you'll get yourself a protocol."

Dr Lyons said ChAFTA protocol development varied from each commodity and industry, but was hopeful it would "move quicker than people think".

Queensland Minister for State Development, Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham challenged the region's producers to seize the Chinese trade opportunity.

Chronicle journalist Tara Miko is reporting live from the AccessChina'16. Follow her on Twitter @Tara_Miko.

Topics:  china china'16 darling downs toowoomba trade

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