Fishing industry welcomes ‘level playing field’

THE Western Australian Fishing Industry Council has voiced its support for Australia’s free trade agreement with the US, with the State’s fishery exports to benefit from the removal of tariffs.

WAFIC chief executive officer Graham Short said while it was difficult to quantify the exact impact the AUSFTA would have on the State’s seafood market, on a national level, about $A140 million worth of product would enter the US market, duty free, each year.

“The seafood industry welcomes the proposed AUSFTA,” Mr Short said.

“We are supportive of any proposal that creates a level playing field.

“The arrangement has come at a time when the industry is under pressure, particularly from the increasing value of the Australian dollar and the increased competition in key global markets.

“It [the AUSFTA] involves 48 separate rates of duty in various seafood products that will be removed,” Mr Short said.

Tariffs set to be removed include: a 7.5 per cent import duty on crab meat; a 4 per cent import duty on herring in brine; a 15-20 per cent duty on sardines and canned tuna; a 10 per cent duty on prepared meals of lobster; and a 5 per cent duty on prepared meals of prawns.

The latest figures from the Department of Industry and Resources (DoIR) puts the US as the third largest fisheries exports market for Australia, after Japan and China (see table).

Market information supplied by DoIR indicates that aquaculture is considered to be the fastest growing primary industry in the world and that Western Australia has an abundance of highly valued fish species, which are currently under development to determine their aquaculture potential.

Some of the species are expected to have potential to develop into viable export industries.

Development projects are currently under way for species such as oysters, abalone, silver perch, black pearls and prawns.

However, successful aquaculture ventures are more likely to be those with a high-quality product and low volume sales due to the nature of the State’s freshwater resources, coastline and remoteness.

WAFIC is the peak industry body for the State’s commercial fishing industry.



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