Progress in FTA with Indonesia produces concerns for Australia’s forest industries

According to the local media, Australia and Indonesia are progressing fast in negotiating the Free Trade Agreement between the countries. This builds a concern of the forestry industries in Australia as the agreement may potentially accelerate growth of timber products in the country.

Ross Hampton, CEO of the  Australian Forest Products Association, commented:

“Australia already imports from Indonesia about AUD 500 million worth of timber and paper products, against our exports to Indonesia of some AUD 48 million in 2015.

Australia’s forest industries operate to the world’s highest environmental standards and it beggars belief that we would seek to further increase timber and paper products coming into this country from arguably less sustainable operations. It is alarming that even as this deal is being discussed the Government is considering weakening protections against illegally logged timber imports.

A poor outcome for forest industries in this deal would dismay the 120,000 regional Australians who work in our industries, coming on top of the recent China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) which dudded Australian paper and tissue products by lowering our tariffs to zero whilst leaving China tariffs between 5% and 7.5%.

Australian producers face significant international competition, and there are many examples of importers engaging in dumping activities, as well as selling products with varying levels of quality, and with dubious standards and environmental compliance. The price of these imported products may not reflect the ‘true’ cost of inputs for competing products around the globe.”

Earlier VicForests informed that the company was seeking comment from local community members on its proposed Timber Utilisation Plan  relating to small-scale timber harvesting operations across Victoria.

Source: Woodbizforum