Programme 1.13: International market access

​Programme objective

This programme’s objective in 2014–15 was to:

  • maintain and improve international market access opportunities for Australia’s agriculture 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 work with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to achieve the best outcomes for Australian agricultural and food export interests in bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations.

The department is also responsible for technical market access, negotiating with trading partners on arrangements to open, maintain, and improve access, and providing expert advice in negotiations to restore markets when trade is disrupted.

More information is available on the department's website.​​​​ ​​​ ​​​

Table 14 Programme 1.13—International market access—key performance indicators
Key performance indicator2014–15 targetPerformance
Effective policies, programmes and regulations that contribute to enhanced productivity, profitability, competitiveness and sustainability Accurate and timely advice provided aMet
Host and/or participate in agricultural working groups 5 working groups aMet
Support incoming and outgoing delegations 30 delegations aMet
Support ministerial and other high level visits Up to 5 aMet
Support a network of Department of Agriculture officers overseas located in key regions to maintain and improve Australia's market access opportunities and competitiveness18 key overseas marketsMetMetMet
Meet all portfolio statutory reporting obligations under international agreements100%MetMetMet
Distribute membership funds to international organisations in accordance with Australia’s international obligations and statutory requirements Memberships paid aMet
Support capacity building and cooperation projects with trading partners and international institutions5–10 projectsMetMetMet
Underpinning research, advice, forecast, projects, products and data services meet stakeholder expectations, and are delivered within agreed timelines85% bMetMet

a New performance indicator. b Client satisfaction as measured by an annual survey of ABARES clients.


Free trade agreements

Free trade agreements (FTAs) provide a range of benefits to Australian agriculture. These include new market opportunities, increased price competitiveness and a more level playing field with competitors that already have FTAs. We worked with industries and trading partners to better understand their priorities and to reach the best deal for Australia’s primary producers in the FTAs with the Republic of Korea, Japan and China.

Korea–Australia Free Trade Agreement

The Korea–Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) came into force on 12 December 2014. Australian exporters benefited from tariff cuts on the date the agreement took effect and on 1 January 2015.

The KAFTA protects and promotes our competitive position in Australia’s sixth-largest agricultural export market. It eliminates tariffs across a range of agricultural and fisheries commodities, including removing a 40 per cent beef tariff over the next 15 years. This is equivalent to the terms gained in 2012 by the United States, our major competitor in this market, which will help maintain Australia’s market share.

Japan–Australia Economic Partnership Agreement

The Japan–Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) came into force on 15 January 2015. The agreement delivered an immediate tariff cut and a second round of cuts on 1 April 2015.

Japan is Australia’s third-largest agricultural export market. The JAEPA provides an advantage over competitors that do not have an economic partnership agreement with Japan. For example, Australia’s beef tariffs are already almost 20 per cent lower than tariffs faced by the United States.

The agreement also eliminated tariffs on a range of Australian agricultural and seafood exports, including asparagus, live cattle, Tasmanian  cherries, macadamia nuts, mangoes, sorghum, abalone, prawns and rock lobster.

China–Australia Free Trade Agreement

The China–Australia Free Trade Agreement (CHAFTA) was concluded in November 2014. It will provide Australian exporters with an early advantage over major competitors without FTAs, such as the European Union and the United States. The CHAFTA will also help restore Australia’s competitive position against countries with an FTA, such as New Zealand.

Once the agreement is ratified and fully implemented, 95 per cent of Australian exports will enter China duty-free. The agreement eliminates tariffs on a range of key agricultural and fisheries products, most within four to eight years. Australia will also receive a duty-free country-specific quota of 30 000 tonnes for wool, in addition to the existing World Trade Organization (WTO) quota of 287 000 tonnes.

Trans-Pacific Partnership

Building on the success of recent bilateral trade agreements, we continued to work with DFAT toward finalising the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP will reduce tariffs and country-specific trade barriers for Australian primary producers and agricultural exporters in markets across the 11 other negotiating parties.

Opening new markets

We commenced a new, coordinated approach to technical market access to maximise trade outcomes for Australia’s agricultural and food sector.

We are using market information and intelligence to ensure new market access arrangements are in Australia’s national interest. We are also working with industry, state and territory governments and trading partners to develop plans that prioritise potential markets and allow targeted work to more effectively leverage the outcomes from FTAs.

This collaborative approach has helped several horticultural industries finalise new export strategies. The kangaroo and other industries are working with us to conduct industry analyses and to develop export plans to overcome international trade barriers. We will use the commodity export plans to develop country strategies so we can target our resources to deliver better trade outcomes.

New live animal export markets

We negotiated with overseas animal health authorities to reach agreement on health and welfare requirements for the export of live cattle, sheep, goats, horses, deer and other animal species. We continued to work with industry representatives to identify priority markets for cattle, goats and sheep through the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council protocol committee.

The opening of markets to Cambodia, Egypt, Lebanon, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea and Thailand in 2014–15 provided increased opportunities for Australian livestock producers to compete in the international marketplace.

We negotiated initial agreements for the export of cattle to Algeria, Bahrain, China, the Eurasian Customs Union (Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia), Iran, Qatar and Taiwan. We also reached agreement for the export of alpacas, breeder goats, horses and reptiles to various countries.

Aquatic animal industries will benefit from negotiations to open access for live barramundi fingerling exports to China, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, and continued technical assistance to support exports to Singapore. We also negotiated access for live Murray cod and live oyster spat to new markets.

New horticulture markets

We opened significant new markets for the table grape industry through negotiations in 2014 for access to the Republic of Korea and Japan, and the immediate reduction of tariffs under the KAFTA and JAEPA.

The cherry industry also benefited from the elimination under the KAFTA of the 24 per cent tariff on Australian cherry exports. The value of Tasmanian cherry exports to the Republic of Korea increased from $69 ​​000 in 2014 to more than $3.5 million in 2014–15.

Animal genetics exports

We continued to work with industry representatives to identify priority markets for animal genetic products through the Ruminant Genetics Trade Advisory Group.

Australia reached agreement with the United States for the export of bovine embryos and semen to the United States. Chile reaccredited 15 genetic establishments and approved the accreditation of four new establishments to trade in small ruminant semen and embryos, and bovine semen.

The department worked with agencies in Canada, New Zealand and the United States on a project to improve familiarity with each country’s processes for certifying bovine germplasm exports. The project is aimed at creating opportunities to simplify or harmonise import requirements for this trade. Australian officials visited ruminant genetics establishments in Canada and the United States.

Maintaining and improving markets

Facilitating export audits

Our trading partners regularly review the food export system to ensure Australia meets import requirements. A successful audit results in market maintenance or improved market access.

In 2014–15, the department hosted audits by authorities from China, Japan, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan and the United States, and two inspections by the European Union.

Significant technical and scientific analysis has helped maintain existing access, improve market conditions for exporters and open new markets. Through this work we have:

  • negotiated a new protocol for wheat and barley exports to China, which supports trade worth more than $1.3 billion a year
  • secured the first exports of mangoes to the United States, after 10 years of negotiations on an acceptable protocol, with lychee exports expected to commence in 2015–16.

The department welcomes overseas audits because they verify export systems and provide feedback that enables continuous improvement. Australian export establishments also receive valuable advice on their production methods to ensure they consistently meet importing country requirements.

ASEAN cold treatment workshop

We hosted a three day-workshop with ASEAN trading partners to present Australia’s cold treatment systems for horticultural produce as a phytosanitary measure. The workshop developed strong ties with ASEAN trading partners and improved mutual understanding of the benefits of cold treatment.

Improving technical market access

As well as working to maintain access to markets, we helped deliver positive trade outcomes for a range of Australian industries. This included re-opening markets for:

  • hides and skins of bovine, ovine, capr​​ine and porcine origin to Brazil
  • beef to Kazakhstan
  • poultry meat to the Republic of Korea
  • eggs and egg products to Singapore.

We delivered improved or new access for:

  • a chilled meat trial to China
  • meat casings to the European Union, Lebanon and Mexico
  • pet food and pet meat to the Republic of Korea
  • table grapes to China and Japan
  • white offal to Vietnam.

We also finalised export certification arrangements with the Eurasian Customs Union to facilitate trade in feathers, hides, skins, wool and other non-edible animal by-products.

Engaging international stakeholders to improve market access

Multilateral forums are important in shaping Australia’s reputation as an open and transparent trading partner to generate and maintain future trade opportunities. These forums are also valuable to learn about trading partners and competitors, to provide opportunities to share knowledge and technology and to influence change. This has flow-on benefits for our bilateral trading environment and for Australian agricultural producers, processors and exporters.

World Trade Organization

Member countries adopted the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA) in November 2014. The TFA will assist Australia’s agricultural exports by requiring member countries to provide transparency and certainty on import requirements, fees and charges, and release times and procedures.

We negotiated to ensure the TFA would not diminish Australia’s rights to implement its own biosecurity measures under existing agreements on technical barriers to trade (TBT) and the application of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures.

Setting international food standards

Australia continues to play a strong leadership role in the development of international science-based food standards through the Codex Alimentarius Commission and its subsidiary bodies. This work ensures the food safety principles applied to food regulation in Australia are reflected in international standards. This provides a direct benefit to producers and exporters by simplifying market access.

In 2014–15, Australia contributed to the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene to develop guidelines for the control of non-typhoid Salmonella spp. in beef and pork meat. Salmonellosis is one of the most frequently reported food-borne diseases, and beef is considered to be a significant source of the infection world-wide.

The Codex guidelines will facilitate importing country assessments of system equivalence and assist Australia in trade negotiations. This will particularly benefit Australia’s beef and pork export trade. The beef trade is the third-largest in the world and was worth $7.8 billion in 2014. Pork exports were worth $85 million in 2014.

Codex Australia

We contributed to Codex Australia’s agreement to commence new work on the limit for campesterol in the Codex Standard for Olive Oils and Olive Pomace Oils. This has the potential to increase exports of Australian extra-virgin olive oils.

We also continued work to amend the General Standard for Food Additives to include food additives used in wine-making.

Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation forum

The Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum facilitates economic growth and prosperity with the vision of creating a seamless regional economy.

The September 2014 APEC Food Security Ministerial Meeting in Beijing examined how APEC members could boost agricultural productivity and food production and availability, based on sustainable development, innovation, science and technology.

The Beijing Declaration on APEC Food Security supports Australia’s trade interests by encouraging high standards of sustainable and innovative agricultural production and promoting a fairer playing field.


We helped advance Australia’s agriculture and food security interests at the G20 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting in Istanbul in May 2015. G20 ministers agreed to strengthen their collaboration in the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) and to take practical steps to improve agricultural productivity sustainably, which includes reducing food loss and waste. This built on the G20 Food Security and Nutrition Framework that leaders agreed in November 2014 during Australia’s G20 presidency.

In October 2014, the department also completed its term as chair of the AMIS. This is a G20 initiative designed to encourage market transparency and policy coordination.

Scientific and economic research

Understanding market opportunities

ABARES produced the What India wants report, following its work in 2013–14 on the report What China wants. The report examined expected food consumption across rural and urban consumers in India through to 2050.

The report considered resource and environmental pressures facing India as it strives to meet the projected rise in food demand through domestic production. The report identifies income growth and urbanisation as key drivers of changing diets. India is expected to increase the intake of dairy products, fruit and vegetables.

The analysis supports Australia’s agricultural sector by exploring market opportunities with growing trading partners.

ABARES also undertook analysis and provided information to support Australia’s negotiations on the CHAFTA.


Regulation in overseas markets

A number of trading partners have introduced or tightened regulatory and quality requirements for agricultural imports. The department has also seen a large increase in agriculture-related TBT notifications. This reflects more developing countries reporting notifications and an increase in certification requirements and voluntary labelling standards.

We are taking a more coordinated approach with trading partners and industry to address the range of SPS and TBT barriers that affect exports.

Supporting meat and animal product exports

A small number of trading partners have imposed restrictions on meat and animal products produced from stock treated with certain veterinary drugs. These drugs include hormone growth promotants and beta-agonist agents such as ractopamine.

Australia allows the use of these veterinary drugs under regulated conditions to increase weight and to improve carcass leanness and feed efficiency. This is in keeping with most countries, and in line with Codex advice. We are working to persuade trading partners that the controlled use of these veterinary agents is safe for animals and consumers, and that no evidence exists of such drugs being unsafe under controlled use.

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Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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