Federal Trade Minister Steven Ciobo today admitted that Indonesian trade negotiators are targeting increased imports of timber products from Indonesia in the fast-progressing Australia-Indonesia Free Trade Agreement.
SABRA LANE: “Indonesia officials say they’d like to see more palm oil and timber products coming to Australia suggesting that they seemed to be some unofficial barriers from stopping these things from coming here. Are you sympathetic to that desire?”
MINISTER CIOBO: “I am, but there’s of course a clear focus on securing a win-win outcome in any trade negotiation”.
– ABC AM, 6 March 2017
Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Mr Ross Hampton said, “Australia already imports from Indonesia about $500 million worth of timber and paper products, against our exports to Indonesia of some $48 million in 2015*.”
“Australia’s forest industries operate to the world’s highest environmental standards and it beggars belief that we would seek to further increase timber and paper products coming into this country from arguably less sustainable operations. It is alarming that even as this deal is being discussed the Government is considering weakening protections against illegally logged timber imports.”
“A poor outcome for forest industries in this deal would dismay the 120,000 regional Australians who work in our industries, coming on top of the recent China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) which dudded Australian paper and tissue products by lowering our tariffs to zero whilst leaving China tariffs between 5% and 7.5%.”
“Australian producers face significant international competition, and there are many examples of importers engaging in dumping activities, as well as selling products with varying levels of quality, and with dubious standards and environmental compliance. The price of these imported products may not reflect the ‘true’ cost of inputs for competing products around the globe,” Mr Hampton said.