Growers urge candidates to talk trade during the election campaign

Growers urge candidates to talk trade during the election campaign
April 17 2019

CANEGROWERS is calling on the campaigning political parties to commit to continuing World Trade Organisation action against Indian sugar subsidies after the 18 May Federal Election.

“Formal consultations between Australia and India in Geneva this week as part of the WTO process are not expected to convince India to review its policies and halt the export of subsidised sugar onto the world market and that means no immediate relief for the world sugar price,” CANEGROWERS Chairman Paul Schembri said.

“We will be relying on the incoming Australian Government to continue this process – so that we can allow market forces free of policy distortion to determine the world price and to serve as a warning to other nations not to flood the world market with surpluses of subsidised sugar.

“CANEGROWERS is urging both sides of politics to commit to taking Australia to the next step in the WTO dispute settlement process which involves taking our complaint to a WTO panel, akin to a tribunal, for formal review and assessment.”

Australia contends that India’s sugar subsidies are in breach of its international commitments and that these excessive subsidies are having a devastating impact on the global sugar price. Brazil and Guatemala have also begun formal proceedings against India.

“We are an industry dependent on export markets and wholly linked to the world price – this is an election issue for every sugarcane grower.  Because of India’s actions, they are currently facing returns well below their cost of production,” Mr Schembri said.

“Australia exports up to 3.4 million tonnes of sugar each year injecting $2.5 billion into the economy.  The industry is the life blood of many of Queensland’s coastal communities.”

The National Farmers’ Federation 2019 Federal Election Priorities highlights an ambitious global trade agenda as a priority for agriculture – it is an imperative for the sugar industry.

“As NFF members, and along with our colleagues in other export-focussed industries, CANEGROWERS is urging the two major political parties to retain the bipartisan approach that has existed with trade in the past and commit to a range of measures to give a fairer trading environment for Australian farmers,” Mr Schembri said.

“As well as our industry-specific issue with India, priority actions for an incoming government include fast-tracking the ratification of the negotiated free trade agreements with Indonesia and Peru.

“Looking to the future, CANEGROWERS seeks commitments to improve our access to Japan by prioritising the removal of non-tariff barriers, enhanced trading relations with China through the inclusion of sugar in a comprehensive review of the existing free trade agreement, a free trade agreement with the European Union, and, following Brexit, new negotiations with the United Kingdom.”

For more information on the NFF 2019 Federal Election Priorities, visit