The RGA have long advocated for rice to be included in our free trade agreements with other countries. We are very pleased with yesterday's announcement from the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Trade Minister Dan Tehan, to see that rice is amongst the duty free import list to the UK.
As one of the world’s most important basic food staples, rice is critical to the security of many nations and has therefore been one of the most highly protected agricultural commodities internationally. The Australian rice industry has been forced to compete against subsidised product from other key exporting countries and in the past, Rice has been omitted from Australian Free Trade Agreement negotiations on many occasions: including Japan, Korea and China.
As a vertically integrated and wholly Australian-owned from “paddock to plate" product, this agreement will see Australian producers and farmers receive a significant boost through greater access to the UK market. A strong Australian rice industry delivers up to $400 million to our economy and is integral to the survival of many rural communities.
Australian rice production can feed up to 20 million people per day. Our agricultural sustainability and our innovative and efficient use of water allows us to use 50% less water in rice production than any other country, making us the most efficient rice producer in the world (according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The NSW rice industry is also a world leader in water usage at 12 ML/ha, compared with the world average 20 ML/ha. Our Australian rice industry is an industry worth supporting.
The RGA will continue their work towards building a strong and competitive rice industry, both in Australia and internationally. We look forward to when this new free trade agreement comes into force.