Shepparton preserving company: The tomato processing industry and the national interest
Date of this Version
The community of tomato growers in Australia, which is largely based in the Goulburn Valley in Victoria, has been so affected by economic decline that their ‘viability was under threat’ (Australian Productivity Commission [PC], 2013). How and whether this situation can be improved is a challenge to government — federal, state and local — the wholesale and retail fruit markets, growers and producers. In the course of finding a solution to this decline, the media — both commercial and social — played a significant role in developing public opinion and in seeing its effect in action. The improvement of parlous social and economic conditions in farming communities where tomato growing is a major industry is complicated by the scope of Australia's international trade obligations — multilateral, regional, and bilateral. The range of legally compliant remedies is limited to restraints on imports by the alteration of tariffs or the imposition of quotas, including zero quotas (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade [GATT], 1994, Article XIX; Agreement on Safeguards [AoS], 1994). But the availability of these depends on serious damage being caused by a sudden and unforeseen increase in the level of imports of processed tomatoes or their sale in Australia at a price below the cost of their production. There are further limitations if the source of the imports is at a low level and from a developing country or where any action is foreclosed by the terms of an existing Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with the exporting state. It is important to remember that these goods are being lawfully traded and to interfere with the terms of trade goes against the policy of trade liberalisation, which Australia has enthusiastically upheld for a long period of time…
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