Dawson MP George Christensen and Trade Minister Dan Tehan meeting with sugarcane growers and representatives at a shed talk on Tuesday. Picture: Heidi Petith
Dawson MP George Christensen and Trade Minister Dan Tehan meeting with sugarcane growers and representatives at a shed talk on Tuesday. Picture: Heidi Petith

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.

Canegrowers Queensland chairman Paul Schembri meeting with Dawson MP George Christensen and Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Dan Tehan at a shed talk on Tuesday. In the background are Canegrowers Mackay deputy chairman Anthony (Tony) Ross and Erakala sugarcane farmer Andre Camilleri. Picture: Heidi Petith
Canegrowers Queensland chairman Paul Schembri meeting with Dawson MP George Christensen and Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Dan Tehan at a shed talk on Tuesday. In the background are Canegrowers Mackay deputy chairman Anthony (Tony) Ross and Erakala sugarcane farmer Andre Camilleri. Picture: Heidi Petith

"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."

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Mr Tehan said they also wanted to target Latin-American Pacific countries and reboot APEC to facilitate trade in Asia.

Dawson MP George Christensen, Canegrowers QLD chairman Paul Schembri, Trade Minister Dan Tehan, Erakala sugarcane farmers Victor and Andre Camilleri, Canegrowers Mackay Area Committee chairman Frank Perna, Canegrowers Plane Creek Area Committee board member Serg Berardi, Canegrowers Mackay chairman Kevin Borg and Canegrowers Mackay chief executive officer Kerry Latter at a shed talk on Tuesday. P
Dawson MP George Christensen, Canegrowers QLD chairman Paul Schembri, Trade Minister Dan Tehan, Erakala sugarcane farmers Victor and Andre Camilleri, Canegrowers Mackay Area Committee chairman Frank Perna, Canegrowers Plane Creek Area Committee board member Serg Berardi, Canegrowers Mackay chairman Kevin Borg and Canegrowers Mackay chief executive officer Kerry Latter at a shed talk on Tuesday. P

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."

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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.

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