Australia's drought-stricken cattle industry could earn 'hundreds of millions of dollars' through improved beef exports to Japan, according to Australian Agriculture Department briefing notes

QUEENSLAND, Australia , June 30, 2013 () – THE drought-stricken cattle industry could earn ``hundreds of millions of dollars'' through improved beef exports to Japan, the State Government has been told.

Department briefing notes for Agriculture Minister John McVeigh said the Japanese Government was taking its first steps towards entering a free trade deal that could lead to it dropping beef tariffs of almost 40 per cent.

Queensland is already the biggest source of the highly prized Wagyu beef.

Briefing notes to Dr McVeigh said Japan's beef tariffs might be scrapped as a compromise deal, while protection could remain in place for rice, sugar and milk.

However the document said progress would not be quick due to Australia's political culture of protectionism.

Australian rice faces a 778 per cent tariff, sugar is 328 per cent and milk powder is 218 per cent.

The briefing notes also show the State Government is facing pressure to reintroduce the ethanol mandate that forced the sale of petrol with a 5 per cent level of ethanol mix, made primarily from sugar cane.

(c) 2013 News Limited

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