Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Australian ag minister headed to UN food conference in Rome


Australian Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt, will join with other agriculture ministers from around the world in Rome this week at the 43rd United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Conference.

Minister Watt (pictured) said the visit was an opportunity to continue open dialogue and collaboration with key trading partners on the importance of free and open international trade, while also progressing negotiations for a new Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement. 

The Minister will also reiterate Australia’s position that removing trade-distorting and environmentally harmful agriculture subsidies is vital to address global food security concerns, and to move towards more sustainable agriculture and food production.  

“As a nation that exports over 70 percent of its agricultural production, Australia is a very proud advocate of free and open international trade,” Minister Watt said.

“As the world deals with the impact of conflict, pandemic and extreme weather on global food security, Australian engagement at the FAO conference means we can assist traditional and new trading partners to stabilise efficient, and cost-effective food supplies.  

“More broadly, this trip is an opportunity to continue support for Australia’s farmers and the communities they feed and clothe—particularly in the face of growing pest and disease outbreaks, and increasing climate variability and natural disasters that affect production.

“Our ag sector is leading the world’s transition to sustainable production and we must maintain this advantage through continual improvement and sharing experiences with our global agriculture partners.

“Sustainability credentials driven by consumer demand are increasingly fundamental to our global trading aspirations and so it’s vital we understand the emerging priorities in international markets. “

While in Rome, Minister Watt will also meet with the EU Agriculture Commissioner and several European Agriculture Ministers, in the ongoing push to secure good market access for Australian producers under an Australia-EU FTA.

“I am proud of what the Albanese Government has delivered through the Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement, which will drive new and diversified trade opportunities for Australian farmers and exporters.”

“Now we want to build on that, by reaching a good deal for Australian producers through a comprehensive Australia-EU FTA.

“I look forward to meeting with ministerial counterparts from the European Union to progress those negotiations.  

“As Trade Minister Don Farrell and I have said on numerous occasions, we will only conclude a deal if it is in Australia’s national interests.

“We believe it is possible to reach an agreement which benefits both Australia and the EU and we will continue striving to achieve that. 

“While at the FAO Conference, I am also honoured to have the opportunity to respond to the McDougall Lecture, delivered by Singapore’s Senior Minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam,” he said.

Frank McDougall was a prominent Australian economist and farmer who played a key role in establishing the FAO in 1945 and the annual lecture named after him is an opportunity for world leaders to outline key global agricultural concerns. 

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