It is expected that the US’ protected sugar market will be high on the Australian agenda at the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) review tomorrow (7 March), however, Mark Vaile, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, has downplayed the likelihood of making any headway in this area.

Vaile, who will co-chair the inaugural AUSFTA Joint Committee in Washington, said that figures for the first year show that Australian exporters have taken advantage of the new opportunities opened up by the agreement, with particular gains being made in lamb and cheese products.

“I look forward to a good discussion with my counterpart, United States trade representative Rob Portman, on the first year of operation of the agreement and on how we can strengthen our trade and investment relationship,” Vaile said.

However, Vaile conceded that it is unlikely that the US will open its protected sugar market to more Australian sugar. The Advertisor reported that Vaile said this week’s meeting would not be the place for major breakthroughs.