Sugar industry to target 500 million+ overseas consumers
Mackay sugarcane farmers are hoping negotiations can unlock more than 500 million extra global consumers for their exports.
Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Dan Tehan met with some of the who's who of sugar at a shed talk on Tuesday to discuss the government's ambitious plans.
"We are in the midst of two pretty important free trade agreement negotiations at the moment - one with the United Kingdom and one with the European Union," Mr Tehan said.
"That will open up access to populations totalling 500 million.
"They're not going to be easy negotiations … (but) we'll be proactive, we'll be principled and where necessary, we'll be patient.
"Hopefully we'll be able to knock one of those off this year.
"And in the pipeline, we're beginning scoping work on Israel and one called EFTA … it's Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein and Switzerland."
Mr Tehan said they also wanted to target Latin-American Pacific countries and reboot APEC to facilitate trade in Asia.
Canegrowers Queensland chairman Paul Schembri said cracking open the EU and UK markets would be difficult as their respective governments looked after their farmers.
"I just say, be ambitious and go for the good deal," Mr Schembri said to Mr Tehan during his visit along Dawson MP George Christensen.
"The worst outcome for us would be the eleventh hour tokenistic deal where we get a shipload here or a shipload there; or at the worst, we get shut out.
"That actually does more damage to us."
Mr Tehan said he had spoken with the UK Minister of State for Trade Policy Greg Hands this week and would have a phone call with EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis in coming days.
Share your thoughts on this issue through a letter to the editor: