AWB Ltd Managing Director, Andrew Lindberg, today welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of the successful negotiation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Thailand.
In particular, Mr Lindberg highlighted the immediate elimination of tariffs on wheat and grains as a significant benefit for Australian growers.
Mr Lindberg said historically Australian wheat exported to Thailand had attracted a one baht per kilogram duty, equating to a tariff of USD25.00 per tonne.
“Australia has a proud history of supplying quality wheat to Thailand to support their milling and baking industries as well as their shrimp feed sector,” said Mr Lindberg.
“Australia is currently one of the major exporters of wheat to Thailand, supplying in the range of 250,000 -350,000 tonnes per annum, accounting for approximately 40 per cent of Thailand’s total wheat imports. The United States is Australia’s major competitor in supplying wheat to Thailand,” said Mr Lindberg.
Mr Lindberg said AWB as the Single Desk manager had worked closely with Thai customers to build demand for Australian wheat, and with the elimination of tariffs, Australia’s exports had the potential to increase even further.
Wheat consumption in Thailand is a mere 7kg per capita, with rice remaining the primary staple at 151 kg per head. However, consumption of wheat-based products, including noodles, breads, cakes, and biscuits is increasing.
“AWB worked closely with the Trade Minister, Mark Vaile, and his negotiating team to identify areas for improved access for Australian growers to the Thai market and I congratulate Minister Vaile and the Prime Minister on concluding a comprehensive FTA so quickly,” said Mr Lindberg.
“The FTA will also improve Australia’s position in Asia a crucial growth market for AWB and Australian wheat growers. By 2007 AWB aims to have 60 per cent of the AWB National Pool volume going to Asia.
“Unlike Australia’s major competitors, including the US and EU, Australian farmers do not receive excessive domestic support subsidies but rely on active Single Desk management strategies and strong international relationships and any improvements to market access achieved by the government helps on this front,” said Mr Lindberg.
This FTA has focused specifically on bilateral rather than multilateral trade issues and successfully made significant improvements to market access for both countries and represents the best model for the negotiation of future agreements.
Media contact Peter McBride, AWB Limited, on 03 9209 2174 or 0417 662 451