Australian south sea pearls

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Free Trade Agreement set to benefit pearling industry

19 November 2014
THE Territory looks set to benefit after Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Tony Abbott signed the long-awaited China-Australia Free Trade Agreement on Monday.

The main sectors to benefit from the agreement will be cattle, fresh produce, natural resources and pearling. The benefits of freer trade with China could be years away, as some of the NT's major export products will continue to be the subject of Chinese import tariffs for almost a decade.

Among the winners is the pearl industry, which is currently slugged with a 21 per cent tariff on imports to China.

The tariff will be phased out over the next four years, a move that will bring some relief to the Paspaley family, whose iconic pearling business has been under siege from a deluge of cheap, plentiful imports in recent years.

Paspaley Group executive director James Paspaley welcomes the agreement.

"I am sure that not only Paspaley but also the whole of the Australian pearling industry will benefit from the reduction of these trade barriers," he said.

"The freeing up of trade relations is an extremely positive move, one which will undoubtedly build industry confidence, encourage market growth and be of great benefit to our customers."

China trade deal to bear fruit for NT industries FROM PAGE 19 The agreement is also expected to provide certainty to the NT's natural gas and manganese industry, which will continue to attract zero-tariff terms.

BHP subsidiary GEMCO, which operates a manganese mine on Groote Eylandt, welcomed the signing of the agreement, saying in a statement that it would "bring certainty to long-term operations" and that it was likely to make investment in the NT more attractive.

The NT cattle industry, once again booming after the 2011 live export ban, is also likely to benefit from the gradual phase out of the 10 per cent tariff on live exports, the 12 to 25 per cent tariff on beef, and the 5 to 14 per cent tariff on hides, skins and leather products.

NT Cattlemen's Association CEO Tracey Hayes described the free-trade agreement as "something of an unknown quantity" for cattlemen in the northern third of the state, but said the Territory as a whole would benefit regardless of the agreement's fine print.

It will be a long wait for beef producers, however, with tariffs not being scrapped until 2023.

The 15 per cent tariff on mangoes will end in 2019. Australian Mango Industry Association CEO Robert Gray said the removal of the tariff would mean mangoes could be exported directly through China. They are currently shipped via Hong Kong to circumvent the tariff barrier.

"It makes shipments into China a more sustainable option, which will ultimately benefit farmers," he said Member for Solomon Natasha Griggs praised the agreement, which has been in the works for nearly a decade.

"This is an outstanding agreement, which will translate into greater economic growth, more jobs and higher living standards for the households and businesses of Darwin and Palmerston," she said.

Mrs Griggs said the NT would see real results from the agreement, forecast to have an $18 billion impact on the national economy over the next decade.

"The ChAFTA will give Australian exporters unprecedented levels of market access to the world's second-largest economy, with a population of 1.36 billion and a rapidly growing middle class," she said.

"Australia is a services economy and ChAFTA will provide a range of new opportunities for our service providers."

"This is an outstanding agreement, which will translate into greater economic growth, more jobs and higher living standards for the households and businesses of Darwin and Palmerston"
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