TPP must not stop improved food labelling

8 October 2015

The Voice of Horticulture has cautiously welcomed the conclusion of the Trade Pacific Partnership deal but remains concerned about the impact on food labelling laws.

The Voice of Horticulture, an industry lobby group representing the great majority of horticulture growers,  welcomes the announcement overnight that Pacific Rim countries, including the U.S., Japan and Australia, have agreed to one of the largest regional trade deals in history.

The TPP has been controversial because of the secret negotiations that have shaped it and the perceived threat to an array of industries, as well as national sovereignty. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement covers about 40% of the world economy.

Tania Chapman, the Chair of the Voice of Horticulture, said “Like many industries we have concerns about the non-disclosure of what Australia has put on the table, but the agreement will hopefully result in further opportunities for Australian horticulture exports from reduced trade and phytosanitary barriers.” Ms Chapman added “We would be concerned if the agreement impacts on the ability of the Australian Government to strengthen food labelling laws.”

John Dollison, CEO of the Apple and Pear Association (APAL), noted that “The TPP includes trading partners and competitors in the export of fresh produce. Trade deals are good for export growth but we must ensure that food labelling laws are not compromised” he said.

The Voice of Horticulture believes that the current country of origin labelling (CoOL) laws for food are currently insufficient to assist consumers in making informed decisions about the source of the fresh and processed foods they purchase. This has unintended consequences on the viability of Australian producers.

The Voice of Horticulture has called for the labelling all food products, including fresh produce, to be clear, mandatory and enforced.

The TPP involves 12 countries (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S. and Vietnam). According to Produce Marketing Association in the US, TPP members currently traded a high proportion of their fresh produce – about 70% – between other treaty members.

Australian Agriculture producers are already benefitting from a 75 per cent rise in worldwide demand for food in the first half of this century, with three quarters of this growth coming from Asia.

Ms. Chapman said “Australian horticulture growers and exporters are keen to take full advantage of these opportunities by tapping into the growing demand within the Asian middle class for niche and high end-value products, which have been derived from production systems with due regard for food safety and the environment.”

Australia has existing trade agreements with several member countries including the US, Japan, New Zealand and ASEAN countries.

Lawmakers in TPP countries must now approve the deal, which has been under negotiation for several years.

 

Media contacts

Tania Chapman
Chair, Voice of Horticulture
0428 291 717
chair@voiceofhorticulture.org.au

John Dollisson
Director, Voice of Horticulture
0413 111 123
director@voiceofhorticulture.org.au

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