Agricultural Trade Matters, August 2018

​​​​​Agricultural Trade Matters

Agricultural trade matters provides an overview of what the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and the Australian Government are doing to support international agricultural trade.

This is the current edition, published August 2018.

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Canada? Alpaca my bags.

Australian alpacas are now able to be exported to Canada as a result of recent negotiations between the two countries.

Australian alpacas could soon be making their way to Canada with a new market access opportunity opening up this past June.

The sought after Aussie alpacas represent a small industry with great potential.

Tim Chapman, head of Animal Biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, said the announcement represented the strong trade relationship between Australia and Canada and the high value of our alpacas.

‘Australian alpaca genetics are highly desirable internationally, so it is likely the exported animals will be top quality stud stock used for the genetic advancement of the Canadian herd,’ Mr Chapman said.


Read more about Canada? Alpaca my bags

Alpacas are also known for their high quality fleece production, with their lustrous, silky and locking fibre being one of their most distinguishable features.

‘Australia exports a small number of high value alpacas each year.’

New market access opportunities like this are a welcome outcome for the Australian alpaca industry, and places a niche and lucrative market in the spotlight.

Including fleece, animal and domestic meat sales, the value of the Australian alpaca industry exceeds $12 million.

‘The fact that Canada initiated negotiations for import protocols reflects a rapidly growing and internationally respected industry.’ 

There are approximately 140,000 pedigree alpacas registered in Australia and at least that number again of unregistered animals. The majority of them are bred in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

Find out more about market access achievements.

New Country of Origin Labelling in effect

New Country of Origin Labelling requires all products to display origin information.

Customers will now find it easier to choose Australian produce. As of 1 July 2018 most food products on Australian supermarket shelves are required to display new country of origin labels.

Food produced or packaged from this date and sold in retail stores in Australia must comply with the new labelling laws. This includes imported food where the food was packaged from 1 July 2018.

Jo Grainger, Assistant Secretary, Plant Industries, Infrastructure and Workforce, said the new labels were welcomed by farmers and supported our agricultural industries.

‘We’ve supported this initiative from the get go because the new labels make it easier for customers to identify where their food comes from,’ Ms Grainger said.


Read more about new Country of Origin Labelling in effect

‘We think it’s a great way for customers to choose Aussie products and support our farmers.’

Research suggests the net benefit to business and government will be $66 million over 20 years.

Foods that require the new label will have to display the familiar Australian Made Australian Grown kangaroo symbol, a bar chart indicating the proportion of Australian ingredients and a text statement. The bar chart shows how much of the product was grown by Aussie farmers. The kangaroo symbol tells us the food was grown, processed or manufactured in Australia. Foods that don’t need the new label will still have to state where they are from.

‘We will also have a role in assessing imported food for compliance with the new Information Standard.

‘We’re encouraging importers to familiarise themselves with the tools available to them so they can meet the standard.’

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has published a range of tools to assist the food industry to comply with the new labelling requirements.

Non-priority food including highly processed confectionary and snacks, tea, coffee, alcohol and other beverages don’t have to comply with the new labelling requirements.

The ACCC will police CoOL, with penalties up to $1.1 million for a company flouting the rules.

Find out more about Country of Origin Labelling.

New chairperson named as preparations begin for second stage of live export standards review

The second stage of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock review will soon get underway.

Steve McCutcheon has been announced as the new Chair to lead the comprehensive review of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL).

Mr McCutcheon brings more than 30 years’ experience in agriculture and food policy to the role.

He is supported by a panel of highly qualified members of the independent technical advisory committee who have expertise across animal health and welfare, regulation and the livestock industry.

With his lead, the committee is expected to open the second stage of the review for public consultation later this month.


Read more about new chairperson named as preparations begin for second stage of live export standards review

Stage one of the ASEL review included public consultation to seek feedback on draft reformatted standards and to identify key issues for the review to address. The next stage will include the release of an issues paper for feedback from stakeholders.

The review timeline has been accelerated from the end of 2019 to the end of this year.

This comprehensive review of live export standards is in addition to the short, sharp review by Dr Michael McCarthy of the sheep trade during the northern summer. Both reviews and their outcomes are intended to ensure livestock are fit for export and help manage the risks to animal health and welfare during voyages.

Find out more about the review of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL).

Non-Tariff Measure Working Group

Non-tariff measures apply to a range of produce including seafood.

As part of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources' ongoing strategy to address Non-tariff measures (NTMs), the third NTM Working Group meeting of 2018 will be held in late August.

The cross-government and industry working group brings together the agricultural and food industries to discuss, prioritise and drive cross-cutting strategies to address key NTMs affecting Australian exports.

The department is currently developing a set of videos as part of the communication strategy to inform industry, government and international stakeholders about the technical requirements to trade, both commercial and government imposed. They will also act as an educational tool to highlight the standards that Australian produce is grown and manufactured to, which solidify Australia’s international reputation for safe and compliant products.


Read more about Non-Tariff Measure Working Group

The working group continues to provide a key mechanism to engage with industry to discuss ways to reduce and/or remove trade restrictive cross-cutting NTMs. Specifically those that have the most impact on industry, identified by recent NTM analysis reports for a number of industry sectors. This is crucial for both government and industry to be able to understand and progress agreed international strategies on NTMs through mechanisms such as APEC, ASEAN, FTAs and bilateral mechanisms.

Priorities include minimising the impact of Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs), product testing, certification and pursuing equivalence and or recognition of systems among others.

Collaborative international work with industry to remove NTMs in these areas could significantly reduce costs to industry and improve Australian industry’s international competitiveness.  

If you would like to know more about this work or the working group, please email NTM

Find out more about NTMs.

Growing agricultural trade relations and opportunities with new appointments

Australia’s agricultural trade prospects have been boosted, with the Government’s investment in six new overseas counsellors.

Our international agricultural trade prospects have been boosted, with the appointment of six new overseas counsellors, bringing the total to 22 specialists across key export markets. 

The department’s agricultural counsellors play a critical role in maintaining and improving our agriculture export markets, helping to get local farm produce to more tables across the globe.

Malcolm Thompson, Deputy Secretary of Trade and Market Access, said these six new agricultural counsellors are in regions where Australia is negotiating, or have recently concluded, free trade agreements: Asia, South America and Europe.

‘We know that having experienced and connected agricultural counsellors on the ground makes a big difference to facilitating growth opportunities for Australian producers,’ Mr Thompson said.


Read more about growing agricultural trade relations and opportunities with new appointment

‘They are well placed to remove roadblocks, meaning quicker and more successful market access negotiations.

‘Most of the new counsellors will take up their posts by January 2019.

‘These new roles were recently announced in the Australian Government’s budget and are being funded through the Growing Australian Agricultural Exports Budget initiative,’ Mr Thompson said.

Our agricultural counsellors organise and lead discussions, respond to information requests, and facilitate visits and inspections to progress market access requests.

They also play a significant role in rectifying any problems with Australian agricultural goods on entry to their overseas destinations.

‘Our overseas posts are integral in achieving better trade outcomes for our agriculture industries.

‘These additional six specialists will put us in a strong position to capitalise on the opportunities emerging off the back of our FTAs.’

Find out more about our overseas network.

Australia-EU free trade agreement negotiations underway

Hon David Littleproud MP meets with EU Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, as Australia begins negotiations for a free trade agreement with the European Union. Source: Twitter.

Australia’s trade and investment future with the European Union (EU) is in a strong position after negotiations launched for the Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement (A-EU FTA). The first round of negotiations were held in Brussels in July.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon. David Littleproud MP welcomed the launch of the A-EU FTA and the possibilities it holds for Australian agricultural exporters.

‘This has big potential for our farmers and will open up lucrative premium markets in our fourth largest export destination driving increased exports, economic growth and jobs in rural and regional Australia,’ Minister Littleproud said.

The EU is an important market for Australia, with room to grow. It is our fourth largest export destination for agriculture, fish and forest products and our largest source of agriculture, fish and forest product imports (in 2017).


Read more about Australia-EU free trade agreement negotiations underway

Australia and the EU enjoy a constructive and substantial bilateral relationship. Australia is seeking to expand this relationship even further with an ambitious and comprehensive FTA.

Australia will aim to improve market access for agricultural products through the A-EU FTA, especially those constrained by EU tariffs and tariff quotas such as beef, sheep-meat, sugar, cheese and rice. However, negotiations on some products will be difficult.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is calling for submissions from interested individuals and groups on the potential opportunities and impacts of the A-EU FTA. Stakeholders are encouraged to submit their views through the submissions page.

Media release: Negotiations launched for Australia-EU FTA - 18 June 2018

Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals

Australian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Gillian Bird, presents Australia’s first Voluntary National Review report on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Last month, Australia’s Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Gillian Bird, delivered Australia’s first Voluntary National Review (VNR) on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the UN. This coincided with the launch of the Australian Government’s reporting platform on the SDG indicators.

The VNR addresses all 17 SDGs and covers Australia’s progress, experiences and lessons learned to date. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is the lead agency for two of the 17 goals – SDG2: zero hunger and SDG6: clean water and sanitation.

The Australian Government is already contributing to SDG2 and SDG6 through a range of policies and activities which help producers grow and trade agricultural products and increase water-use efficiency.

The meeting in New York was a great opportunity to share Australia’s experiences and gain some insight into efforts in other countries and to see what we could learn from their progress.

Read more about advancing the Sustainable Development Goals

When the goals were established all United Nations member states agreed to report on progress.

The report isn’t just about what government is doing, it also covers the efforts of the private sector, civil society, academic institutions and so on—it’s a whole of Australia report.

Before gracing the world stage, the report was launched domestically in June by the Hon Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs.

In addition, the Australian Sustainable Development Goals website is another tool for demonstrating how business, government and civil society are responding to the SDGs. The website was developed by the Global Compact Network with funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Organisations are encouraged to contribute case studies to the new website.

The Australian Government is committed to building a stable and prosperous world through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Find out more about the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals.       

ATMAC grant program now closed

ATMAC helped build networks and address trade barriers for improved market access for grain.

Now that all funds have been distributed, the Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation (ATMAC) grant program has closed.

The program funded 22 projects with a total value of $2.60 million (excluding GST). Six of those projects have since been completed (as at 1 July 2018).    

It was the primary grant program for the department’s Trade and Market Access Division.

Head of the division, Louise Van Meurs, said the program will continue to make an impact.


Read more about ATMAC grant program now closed

‘We’ve been pleased with the results we’ve seen so far,’ Ms Van Meurs said.

‘All remaining projects are due to be completed by June next year, so we expect to see a lot of the work really come to fruition over the next year or so.’

The ATMAC program provided grants for projects that support market access. Themes included:

  • negotiation of protocols
  • information on food safety
  • sharing technical expertise.

Australian agricultural products were the focus.

‘We have been working with a broad range of stakeholders including the organics industry, meat and livestock, food and grocery. Projects have covered different commodities from honey and grain to camels and finger limes.

‘The program was open to Australian businesses, and projects spanned national, state and territory levels.’

ATMAC aimed to open, improve or maintain market access opportunities with trading partners such as the European Union, Indonesia and Vietnam and with those we have recently ratified free trade agreements such as China, Japan and South Korea.

‘13 of the projects focus on market access and/or bilateral trade facilitation with China.’

Find out more about other Australian Government grant opportunities.

Find out more about trade and market access.



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MICoR – Manual of Importing Country Requirements


MICoR allows you to find out about, and keep up to date on, the importing requirement of your key export markets.


FTA Portal


The Australian Government FTA Portal provides a comprehensive tariff finder, with information on rules of origin and market snapshots for your searched products.


ePing – Electronic Export Alert


ePing provides notifications on changes of your export markets' sanitary and phytosanity (e.g. biosecurity and food safety) or technical barriers to trade (e.g. labelling) measures. Let Australia's contact point know if you have concerns on another country's measure.


BICON – Australian Biosecurity Import Conditions database


BICON helps to determine if conditions exist for your imports and if a permit is required. The database houses information for more than 20,000 plants, animals, minerals and biological products.

Last reviewed: 1 October 2020
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