Programme 1.13 International market access

​Programme objective

  • maintain and improve international market access opportunities for Australia's agriculture, food, fisheries and forestry industries.

Programme description

Australia exports 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 export interests in multilateral trade negotiations.

More information is available at department's website.

Key performance indicators

Table 14 Programme 1.13—International market access—key performance indicators
Key performance indicator2013–14 targetPerformance
Engage with trading partners to support access to overseas markets for portfolio industries100%MetMet-
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 products100-200 points of engagementMetMet-
Support an effective network of officers overseas located in key regions to maintain and improve Australia's market access opportunities and competitiveness13 posts.
18 key overseas markets
Meet all portfolio statutory reporting obligations under international agreements100%MetMet-
Maintain timely and effective distribution of membership funds to international organisations in accordance with Australia's international obligations and statutory requirements100% of obligations metMetMetMet
Support effective and timely capacity building/cooperation projects with trading partners and international institutions5-10 projectsMetMet-
Integrated scientific and economic research–underpinning research, advice, forecast, projects, products and data services meet stakeholder expectations and are delivered within agreed timelines and in line with international research standards85%MetMet-


New agreements

New opportunities in the Republic of Korea and Japan

The completion of negotiations for the Korea–Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) in December 2013 was the culmination of sustained government-industry collaboration. The Republic of Korea is Australia's fifth most valuable agricultural export market.

KAFTA will safeguard Australia's competitive position in this market. It will also improve the profitability of trade by eliminating tariffs on a range of exports. This will particularly benefit Australian beef, wheat, sugar, dairy, wine, horticulture and seafood exporters.

In April 2014, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the completion of negotiations for the Japan–Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA).

JAEPA is the first comprehensive trade agreement Japan has completed with a developed agricultural exporting country. Japan will, for the first time, significantly reduce or eliminate tariffs on many agricultural commodities, including beef and dairy. This will create new opportunities for Australian exporters of many farm products.

Trade Facilitation Agreement

The ninth World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference was held in Bali in December 2013 with agreement on a package of measures including agriculture; the first since 1995.

The most significant component of the package, the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), seeks to remove red tape and unnecessary formalities in border clearance procedures. The TFA also seeks to assist traders by requiring member countries to provide transparency and certainty on import requirements, fees and charges, and release times and procedures.

Working closely with DFAT, we ensured the new agreement did not diminish Australia's rights and obligations under the existing Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade or the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures.

Building market access

Market access roundtables

In July 2013, we hosted a market access industry roundtable, attended by 120 industry and government representatives. Participants discussed government and industry roles and responsibilities in trade and market access (both import and export). The roundtable also provided a forum for building an understanding of stakeholders' challenges and concerns.

Participants agreed on 11 priorities for improving the effectiveness of collaboration between the department and stakeholders on market issues.

A technical market access and trade development task group has been established, hosted by the department with membership drawn from state and territory primary industry and trade departments. The group met in February and June 2014 and will continue to meet regularly to discuss strategic approaches to technical market access and trade development issues.

We helped draft a China market access strategy and a model for setting market access priorities at a China Strategy–Agriculture Roundtable held in Melbourne in April 2014. Discussions with industries and states and territories will continue to refine the strategy and model.

Creating new and improved market access opportunities

We worked with industry, state and territory agencies and our overseas counsellor network to create new opportunities for Australian farmers to grow their export markets. Our achievements in 2013–14 included:

  • new markets in Japan and the Republic of Korea for table grapes
  • market access to Japan for T-bone steaks derived from cattle aged up to 30 months
  • new market access to India for split lupins and sandalwood
  • opening access to Vietnam for buffalo
  • new market access to China for bovine embryos.

In March 2014, China confirmed it had approved an additional 26 Australian establishments for meat exports, following the submission of establishment applications in 2009 and an onsite audit by Chinese officials in 2010. The applications and on-site audits are necessary requirements of the Chinese approval process.

After almost three years, we finalised negotiations for a health certificate for the export of kangaroo meat to Peru. One Australian establishment has gained approval for exports to Peru.

Building market access in Indonesia

We worked with the Indonesian Government to respond to its September 2013 changes to regulations for trade in live cattle and animal products. The changes included the removal of the quota system for live cattle and boxed beef. Under the arrangements, the live cattle trade has increased and Indonesia is importing 'ready to slaughter' cattle as well as those that are fattened in Indonesian feed lots.

Indonesia also made changes to its regulations for importing horticulture products, including lifting seasonal bans and quotas, and improving the import approval process. We liaised with industry about the regulation changes to facilitate a smooth transition to the new arrangements. As a result, export volumes for the first quarter of 2014 were far greater than for the same period in 2013.

Helping smaller agricultural industries

In addition to maintaining and improving market access for major exports such as meat, dairy and seafood, we assisted smaller industries to strengthen existing trade and facilitated new market access for a range of products.

The department secured access for deer antler products into Vietnam and assisted the Deer Industry Association of Australia to implement changes to the National Velvet Accreditation Scheme, by amending certification for a number of key export markets. These changes helped streamline the velvet production process while maintaining welfare standards and product traceability.

We also secured access for a large number of products exported for research and pharmaceutical or technical purposes, including egg products to Singapore and bovine and porcine pericardium to the United States and Mexico.

Investing in our international relationships

Building agriculture through the G20

As part of Australia's presidency of the G20 in 2014, we contributed to the G20's existing agriculture and food security commitments through three key activities.

We chaired the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) and in March 2014 hosted a meeting of 28 participating countries in Canberra for the third AMIS Rapid Response Forum. AMIS encourages sharing of global agricultural commodity information and fosters discussions about global food price volatility to avoid responses that could hamper markets. Members agreed to two Australian proposals, including new guidelines for electing the AMIS chair, and progressing work to monitor and evaluate the effect of AMIS.

We held a workshop in March 2014 to progress discussions between the G20 and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on an agricultural productivity framework. The workshop discussed experiences and lessons learned from the countries that piloted the framework. The framework will help countries review the impact of economy-wide and sectoral policies on agricultural innovation and productivity.

In June 2014, we hosted a Meeting of the G20 Agricultural Chief Scientists (MACS) to consider how scientific research can contribute to increased agricultural productivity. MACS aims to identify global research priorities, and facilitates collaboration between public and private sector organisations to improve agricultural productivity.

Ministerial visit to Middle Eastern markets

The minister visited the key Middle East markets of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in April 2014 with representatives from the meat, livestock, grains, dairy, pulses and agribusiness sectors.

China engagement continues to grow

Five projects were selected for 2014 funding under the revised Australia–China Agricultural Cooperation Agreement programme. The projects involve the forestry, livestock, grains and seafood industries. The programme was re-designed following a review in consultation with China. The changes have improved the flexibility of the programme to consider a wider range of activities including technical exchanges, conferences, training programmes and research and development. The re-design also enables funding to be focused on agreed priorities. The current priorities are science and technology, investment and trade.

We hosted the Fourth Australia–China Sanitary and Phytosanitary High Level Dialogue in March 2014. This meeting achieved several positive outcomes including an updated memorandum of understanding on cooperation in SPS matters.

Cooperation with Malaysia

Australia hosted two important bilateral forums in November 2013.

The Malaysia–Australia Agricultural Cooperation Working Group addressed exports of halal meat to Malaysia, as well as regulations for live animal exports. It also covered Malaysia's grading, packaging and labelling regulations, fisheries cooperation (particularly through the Regional Plan of Action to Promote Responsible Fishing Practices) and Australia's illegal logging policy.

The Malaysian delegation used the visit to view dairy production, research and processing facilities in Victoria's Gippsland region, with the support of Dairy Australia.

The Malaysia–Australia Free Trade Agreement SPS Working Group discussed progress on each country's SPS market access priorities. In particular, it noted conditions for the export of breeder camels from Australia to Malaysia had been agreed.

Partnership with Indonesia

We attended the first meeting of the Indonesia–Australia Partnership on Food Security in the Red Meat and Cattle Sector in April 2014. The partnership aims to:

  • underpin Indonesia's food security by improving the long-term sustainability, productivity and competitiveness of Indonesia's cattle sector
  • strengthen bilateral business, investment and trade ties
  • support the exchange of expertise, capacity building and technical assistance in the red meat and cattle sector
  • build understanding and cooperation through regular meetings between governments and the red meat and cattle sectors in Indonesia and Australia.

The Working Group on Agriculture, Food and Forestry Cooperation held its 18th meeting in February 2014. The meeting achieved useful progress on areas including clarifying listing processes for dairy and meat export establishments and developing the Country Specific Guideline for illegal logging.

Australia—Philippines Agriculture Forum

The Australia—Philippines Agriculture Forum held its second meeting in Canberra in July 2013. The forum discussed agricultural policy reforms, market access for Australian kangaroo meat and Tier 1 meat export establishments, market access for Philippines decrowned pineapples, a Philippines request for expanded mango weevil area freedom recognition, and agricultural cooperation and capacity building.

The highlight of the meeting was the formal signing of two fruit import protocols covering:

  • importation by Australia of fresh mango fruit from Guimaras Island, Samal Island, and the province of Davao del Sur on Mindanao Island
  • conditions for export of fruit fly host fruits from Australia to the Philippines.

Cooperation with Thailand

Two key representative bodies met in July 2013. The Thailand–Australia Free Trade Agreement Expert Group on SPS Measures and Food Standards discussed market access for Australian fresh fruits, feeder/slaughter cattle, kangaroo and pork meat, as well as the farm compartmentalisation of Thai prawns, mango, duck and ginger. The group also discussed control and inspection arrangement issues, including e-certification and the Thai audit of the Australian beef production system.

The Thailand—Australia Joint Working Group on Agriculture discussed policy priorities, the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System and Australia's biosecurity reform.

Proposals for future cooperation projects were tabled at both meetings.

Scientific and economic research

Understanding what China wants

ABARES produced 'What China wants: analysis of China's food demand to 2050', a detailed assessment of the expected doubling of food consumption in China. The report examined expected food consumption across three income groups: urban high income; urban medium income; and rural consumers.

It also discussed the resource and environmental pressures facing China as it aims to meet its rise in food demand through domestic production. The analysis determined the demand for high-value foods, such as meat and dairy products, will increase most significantly among high-income urban consumers.

The analysis supports Australia's agricultural sector in exploring market opportunities in one of Australia's most important trading partners.

The report is available at ABARES publications.


Negotiating new agreements

We are involved in negotiating proposed economic partnerships and trade agreements in support of DFAT. Negotiating with countries that have different economies, demographics and environments poses challenges for the department.

These include ensuring we protect the integrity of Australia's biosecurity regime, managing the sensitivities in negotiating on certain commodities, facilitating technical assistance and negotiating with non-WTO members, such as on the Pacific Agreement for Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER Plus).

For the Trans—Pacific Partnership negotiations, the department has carefully considered how best to respond to the sensitivities of negotiating parties, while maintaining a focus on achieving a high-quality outcome for Australia's farmers.

Similarly, we are involved in negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. The agreement 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. This will require carefully navigating through any sensitive issues the 16 negotiating parties bring to the table.

Responding to animal health and food safety incidents

We played a major role in maintaining market access during emergency animal disease occurrences (for example, avian influenza) and critical food safety incidents (for example, suspected botulism contamination of milk powder in New Zealand, involving a global company with export businesses in Australia). Although the incidents had the potential to significantly affect exports, we managed the disruption to trade and maintained Australia's reputation for a high level of food safety and animal health standards.

Increasing regulation in emerging markets

The South–East Asian markets are attractive for Australian exporters of agricultural and food products because of their proximity and growing consumer demand for fresh, healthy and affordable products. As their food safety and SPS regimes mature and they introduce new regulations, there is a potential for disruption to trade.

For example, markets including Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines are introducing or implementing food laws that impose conditions around food safety and often include measures to protect domestic farmers and industry.

We will continue to work with our South–East Asian trading partners and Australian industry to facilitate smooth transitions to new regulatory environments.

Broader export certification demands

Our trade partners are increasingly asking the department to develop export certification for food and animal by-products that traditionally have not required it. Affected products have included pet food, pharmaceuticals and rendered products. This has led to a greater need to work with trading partners to develop suitable export documentation that will satisfy the importing country and facilitate trade.

Requests have also increased for certification that supports the export of Australian-origin goods that are processed in an overseas market and subsequently exported to other countries. Often the final destination of the Australian-origin product is unknown. Trading partners have requested assurance for products that have left Australia's regulatory control, or complex government certificates that meet the requirements of multiple markets.

We work with importing countries, producers and exporters to provide assurance for those aspects of the commodity that we can guarantee, such as country of origin status and Australia's animal health status.

Technical barriers to export markets

Trade to established markets can be restricted or disrupted for reasons not related to animal health or food safety, and these may be considered as technical barriers to trade. Additional regulations may include bans on the use of hormonal growth promotants in animal production or regulations to respond to consumer preferences, such as religious slaughter requirements or organic certification.

We work with trading partners and through international standard-setting bodies to facilitate the best outcome for Australian exporters.

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Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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