The Australian government is working overtime on free trade agreements. And yet Aussie industries are getting hit by unexpected tariffs from the same nations we’re negotiating with.
The latest hit came not from the US, but from India.
Australia is shocked by the Indian government’s decision to slap a 60% tariff on chickpea imports.
The move comes while Australia is negotiating a free-trade agreement with India.
‘We’re obviously disappointed with the Indians’ decision,’ Agriculture Minister David Littleproud told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.
‘I’ve written to the minister in India asking them for some explanation.’
It is the second time since late last year the tariff has been raised, with chickpeas attracting a 30% toll in December and 40% in February.
Mr Littleproud said access to other markets like Nepal, Iran and the UAE had lessened the blow on farmers. He added:
‘The important thing to understand now is there are no boats on the water with chickpeas on them…
‘Our producers haven’t been as impacted as badly as they could have.’
India has historically been a strong market for Australian crops, with chickpea export values hitting $1.14 billion in the last financial year.
Mr Littleproud, who visited India for talks on the tariffs in early January, said he was confident Trade Minister Ciobo could get a deal done with India.
‘We’re continuing to work towards a free trade agreement — that’s the gold standard,’ Mr Littleproud said.
Recent biosecurity breaches — including fruit fly in Tasmania — won’t close off other export markets, Mr Littleproud said.
‘The main thing is governments act swiftly and smartly and we’ve done that with fruit fly,’ he said.
The Australian Tribune with AAP