Program 1.13: International market access
- maintain and improve international market access opportunities for Australia’s agriculture, food, fisheries and forestry industries.
Australia exports on average around 60 per cent of its farm products, 56 per cent of its fish products and 60 per cent of its forest products. We negotiated technical market access arrangements with trading partners and worked with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to achieve the best possible outcomes for Australian agricultural and food interests in and multilateral trade negotiations.
Key performance indicators
|Key performance indicator||2012–13 target||Performance|
|Engage with trading partners to support access to overseas markets for portfolio industries||100% a||Met||–||–|
|Number of points of engagement (meetings, delegations and visits) used to maintain and improve market access, manage market closure and interruptions, and represent portfolio interests in new international agreements and standards relating to portfolio products||100–200 points of engagement a||Met||–||–|
|Support an effective network of DAFF officers overseas located in key regions to maintain and improve Australia’s market access opportunities and competitiveness||13 posts.
18 key overseas markets b
|Meet all portfolio statutory reporting obligations under international agreements||100% a||Met||–||–|
|Maintain timely and effective distribution of membership funds to international organisations in accordance with Australia’s international obligations and statutory requirements||100% of obligations met b||Met||Met||Met|
|Support effective and timely capacity building / cooperation projects with trading partners and international institutions||5–10 projects a||Met||–||–|
|Scientific and economic research|
|Underpinning research, advice, forecasts, projects, products and data services are delivered on time, within budget and are of high quality||85% a||Met||–||–|
Building trade ties
Addressing market issues
As part of our international strategy, we developed a new model to establish a more intelligence-driven approach to market access issues. The approach aimed to deliver improved coordination across the portfolio and support whole-of-government collaboration and engagement with industry.
The new model was bolstered by funding aimed to build our food trade ties with Asia. This funding aimed to support an additional agriculture specialist position and three more locally engaged staff to work on market access issues. It was also designed to support greater industry involvement through two to three industry delegations each year.
Chairing the Agricultural Market Information System
In February 2013, Australia was elected as the next chair of the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS). AMIS aims to improve agricultural market information sharing, analyses and forecasts at national and international levels for four major crops: wheat; maize; rice; and soybeans. Chairing AMIS will help Australia foster market transparency and informed collaboration with member countries to ensure responses to food security challenges brought about by market volatility are effective for all.
Deepening multilateral engagement
We hosted visits by key officials from AMIS, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United States Department of Agriculture. All visits resulted in more effective and targeted engagement with these organisations.
Australia began participating as a pilot country in the OECD’s agricultural productivity and innovation framework study, alongside Brazil and Canada. The framework will help developed and developing countries increase sustainable agricultural productivity growth and innovation, as well as identifying gaps or weaknesses in agriculture policy and practices.
In June 2013, we participated in the 38th biennial Conference of the FAO. We were involved in the negotiation of the FAO’s budget, and ensured that the interests of the organisation’s south-west Pacific island state members were progressed.
Each conference opens with the McDougall Lecture, in memory of Frank Lidgett McDougall, an Australian who had a key role in the early days of the FAO. This year, our delegation presented the FAO Director General, Dr José Graziano da Silva, with the book A new idea each morning by Wendy Way, about Frank McDougall and the FAO’s beginnings.
Building bilateral engagement
We hosted the Australia–Indonesia Working Group on Agriculture, Food and Forestry Cooperation in Perth in December 2012. The meeting discussed issues such as live cattle and boxed beef market access, including trade quotas, Indonesia’s horticulture import regulations, and activities to combat illegal logging. Indonesia also proposed a project to strengthen pasture and ranch management in Indonesia.
Indonesia confirmed it would renew its recognition for Australia’s food safety systems for fresh food of plant origin. Formal recognition exempts Australian exporters from undertaking extensive testing and certification for two years. It also maintains access to Indonesia’s main seaport, Tanjung Priok, which is crucial to the viability of Australian horticulture exports.
We created a new Minister-Counsellor (Agriculture) position in Jakarta, reflecting the increasing importance of our agricultural relationship with Indonesia. The role will focus on market access, strengthening Australia’s agricultural relationship with the Indonesian Parliament and government agencies, and will provide momentum for negotiations on the Indonesia–Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.
We established the Working Group on Food Security, which met in conjunction with the Saudi Arabia–Australia Joint Ministerial Commission in March 2013. Discussions were held on food policy, prospects for expanding agricultural trade, investment opportunities, and on the livestock, grains, plant products and fisheries industries.
The 11th meeting of the Australia–China Joint Agricultural Commission was held in April 2013. The minister hosted the meeting, which included the first visit to Australia by a Chinese Agriculture Minister. Topics discussed included improved cooperation, agricultural policy developments and the Feeding the Future joint report, published in December 2012.
During the meeting, the ministers signed a memorandum of understanding on expanded activities under the Australia–China Agricultural Cooperation Agreement. New activities include workshops, training programs and officer secondments. Science and technology, two-way investment and trade have been identified as the priority areas for cooperation. The changes will take effect from 1 January 2014.
The Feeding the Future report marks the first time that the Australian and Chinese governments have worked together on this kind of project. It identifies ways both nations can work together to improve food security. The report also sets out a blueprint to raise rural productivity in Australia and increase our role in supplying global markets.
DAFF had substantial input to the report with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Chinese co-authors. We are working with DFAT and other government agencies to implement its recommendations.
In November 2012, the minister travelled with an industry delegation to Vietnam and Thailand to strengthen ties and build trade opportunities for the agriculture sector. Australia’s trading relationship with these markets is significant, with agriculture, fisheries and forestry exports valued at nearly $2 billion in 2011–12. The trip marked the first visit to Vietnam by an Australian Agriculture Minister.
The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator the Hon. Joe Ludwig, meets Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Mr Yukol Limlamthong.
Negotiating market access
Animal products and food
We negotiate with trading partners to gain or maintain access for animal and food commodities. This may vary from ensuring access is maintained after a trading partner rejects an Australian export consignment, to reaching agreement with a major trading partner on production system and export certification requirements.
Market access achievements in 2012–13 included:
- reinstating kangaroo meat exports to Russia, which had banned imports since 2009
- minimising disruption to trade after outbreaks of notifiable avian influenza in New South Wales and Western Australia
- opening new markets for animal by-products including game trophies to South Africa, kangaroo-based pet food to New Zealand and emu oil to Hungary.
We hosted groups of auditors and other technical experts from trading partners, as successful outcomes from these visits are necessary to maintain or improve market access. The Republic of Korea, Malaysia, the Russian Federation, Vietnam, China, Thailand and the European Commission undertook audits of meat, fish or dairy exports establishments in 2012–13. We worked with industry to address any adverse findings and trade has continued with all markets.
In February 2013, the Philippines and Australia agreed on a revised protocol for a range of Australian horticulture commodities after more than two years of negotiations. The agreement was the result of significant collaboration between DAFF, the horticulture industry and state agriculture departments. The new protocol will benefit Australian fruit exporters.
The new arrangements allow for in-transit cold treatment to ensure products arrives in good condition. Australia is the first country the Philippines has allowed to cold-treat produce while in-transit.
In September 2012, India approved Australia’s export certification of sheepmeat, goatmeat and pork and their products, after 11 years of negotiations. Exports to India commenced immediately. Market access had been closed since late 2001 when India changed its import health requirements.
India has a domestic sheep industry that produces meat and wool, but economic growth and development means it is unable to meet the increasing demand for high-quality meat for the international hotel, restaurant and supermarket trade. The reopened market offers considerable opportunities for Australian meat exporters.
Developing international food standards
Australia continued to play a strong leadership role in the development of international food standards through the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex).
Australia provided significant input to standards adopted at the 35th Codex session in July 2012, including maximum residue limits (MRLs) in cattle and pig tissue (kidney, liver, muscle and fat) for ractopamine. This was a positive outcome for Australia’s pork industry, as several trading partners had been waiting for adoption of Codex MRLs in order to set their own national regulations.
Through Australia’s position as chair of the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems, we are taking a lead role in developing standards that harmonise and facilitate trade in food and food products. The committee’s 20th session in February 2013 completed draft Principles and Guidelines for National Food Control Systems, and will assist governments to develop systems that help protect the health of their populations and meet international obligations.
Scientific and economic research
ABARES has commenced a joint project with India’s National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research. The objective is to develop capacity to research the implications of agricultural price fluctuations on India’s domestic food production, consumption and other policy related issues. This project is part of the Australian Agency for International Development’s (AusAID) Public Sector Linkages Program and has received support from DAFF and AusAID officers at the Australian High Commission in New Delhi.
The Southeast Asian markets remain attractive for Australian exporters of agricultural and food products, while also representing some challenges from increased regulatory requirements. As their food safety and sanitary and phytosanitary regimes mature, there is a potential for new disruptions to trade based on increased requirements. For example, we continue to respond to changes in Indonesia’s regulations for trade in horticultural products, live cattle and animal products.
Negotiating new agreements
We are involved in new and ongoing negotiations for a number of proposed economic partnerships and trade agreements with our trading partners. Challenges include the sensitivities in negotiating on certain commodities, anticipating requests for technical assistance and negotiating with non-World Trade Organization (WTO) members.
Negotiations on the Indonesia–Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement commenced in September 2012. Two pilot projects have already been developed. These projects will promote the mutually beneficial trade in agricultural products and encourage an early improvement in the challenging environment for trade and investment in Indonesia.
Negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership commenced in November 2012. This agreement will initially include the 10 ASEAN countries and the six countries with which ASEAN has separate free trade agreements. The partnership will support improved Australian trade with a group of countries that accounts for almost half the world’s population and 70 per cent of Australian exports of goods and services.
Pursuing high-quality free trade agreements remains a priority. Australia already has free trade agreements in place with Singapore, Malaysia, the United States, New Zealand, Thailand, Chile and ASEAN–New Zealand. Progress continues toward free trade agreements with the Gulf Cooperation Council and several other countries, including China and the Republic of Korea.
Changing our international brand
In November 2011, we announced plans to retire the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) brand. This required engagement with our trading partners to ensure rolling out the new identity did not result in disruption to trade procedures.
Communication has included formal statements at international meetings and letters to trading partners, outlining the administrative changes to export certificates and other items. The brand change neither affects the authority under which audits and inspections are undertaken and export certificates are issued, nor has it prompted any changes to our requirements for imports. Close management of the process continues.