Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA), announced yesterday, will be good for Australian jobs.
As The Australian reports, speaking at the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry before yesterday’s announcement, Mr Abbott acknowledged that freeing up trade between the two nations would mean that new industries would give way to new ones.
However, he tried to ease concerns that Australian manufacturing jobs would be lost.
“Even in the short-term, more trade means more jobs,” Mr Abbott said.
“In the long term, more trade means better jobs for everyone because more people work in world-class industries."
In a joint press release, Mr Abbott and Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb called the JAEPA an “historic agreement” which “is good for the Australian economy, good for jobs, good for farmers and good for consumers.”
From the Australian point of view, the rural sector stands to gain the most from the agreement. Australia’s largest export to Japan is beef which is currently worth $1.4 billion. There will be a halving of the tariff on frozen beef from 38.5 per cent to 19.5 per cent, with deep cuts in the first year.
And cheese, by far Australia’s largest dairy export to Japan at $372 million, will gain significant new duty-free access. Australian horticultural producers will gain from immediate tariff eliminations across a wide array of fruit, vegetables and nuts.
Australian consumers will also be major beneficiaries of this Agreement, with tariffs eliminated on imported cars from Japan, as well as on household appliances and electronics. This will make the goods cheaper but there are fears it will have a negative impact on Australian manufacturing.