Agricultural Trade Matters, August 2019

Agricultural Trade Matters

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

This is the current edition, published August 2019.

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Talking agricultural technology at the G20

Department of Agriculture’s Deputy Secretary Malcolm Thompson talking agricultural innovation in a panel discussion at the G20 Agriculture Minister’s Meeting in Japan in May.

Agricultural trade and the use of new technologies to boost productivity were the centre of discussions at the recent G20 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting in Niigata, Japan.

The meeting brought together representatives from all G20 member countries to exchange views on the sustainable future of the global food system and agricultural sector, including agricultural trade.

Australia’s representative Deputy Secretary of the Department of Agriculture Malcolm Thompson said the host country carried a strong theme of technology and innovation across the meeting’s program.

‘The G20 provided the perfect platform for Japan to showcase the investments they’re making in robotics and artificial intelligence to strengthen the agricultural sector,’ Mr Thompson said.


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‘We saw how automated tractors, self-driving rice transplanters and camera-mounted drones to monitor crop growth are being used to boost efficiency and productivity,’ Mr Thompson said.

‘This work highlighted the importance of AgTech in addressing many of the future challenges facing agriculture worldwide.’

Mr Thompson also participated in a panel discussion on inter-sectoral collaboration to enhance agricultural innovation.

‘Australia has a sustained commitment to innovation in the agricultural sector—government and industry maintain an important partnership for prioritising and investing in rural research and development,’ Mr Thompson said. 

‘Our public farmer levy model for funding rural R&D is globally unique, and was of great interest to the G20 network.

‘In addition to the tech and innovation landscape, we discussed issues around open and transparent trade, as well as transboundary animal diseases and plant pests, such as the current threat of African Swine Fever.

‘Plans at the international level to stop and manage the spread of disease, as well as the standards for managing trade during an outbreak were also laid out.’

Follow the department on Twitter @DeptAgNews for updates on Australia’s agricultural trade news.

Key initiative to modernise Australia's agricultural trade now underway

The Australian government has invested an initial $32.4 million in the Modernising Agriculture Trade initiative over four years.

Every year, Aussie producers send more than two thirds of their goods overseas. These agricultural exports are worth $53 billion dollars annually (2018-19, ABARES), and help to drive our economy.

The Modernising Agricultural Trade (MAT) initiative is an Australian government investment which aims to improve how we regulate our agricultural trade, with an emphasis on updating the systems that support it.

Head of the MAT taskforce Matt Ryan said assembling a dedicated team and investing in this initiative is the start of long-term changes to the way we regulate Australia's agricultural exports.

‘Recently the Prime Minister announced the government's intention to develop a national plan to enable agriculture, fisheries and forestry to become a $100 billion industry by 2030,’ Mr Ryan said.


Read more about key initiative to modernise Australia's agricultural trade now underway

‘Achieving this goal will benefit producers and the industries that support them, while creating jobs along the supply chain.

‘We’ve already started this journey—together with the government we are investing in updating the processes and systems that support trade regulation.

‘Improvements in and uptake of new technology will be a crucial part of this process.

‘We are also updating our legislative frameworks and policies.

‘All of this contributes to ensuring that we remain internationally competitive.’

The government has invested an initial $32.4 million in MAT over four years.

This investment is focused on:

  • protecting Australia’s ‘clean and green’ brand
  • supporting exporters, through improved export information and documentation
  • planning for new digital systems.

‘Gaining, maintaining and improving access to overseas markets by meeting importing country requirements is critical to support and grow export growth,’ Mr Ryan said.

‘Our expanded overseas counsellor network is a key asset in fostering these relationships and engaging with our trading partners.

‘Despite significant drought, the value of farm production remains high.

‘In today’s dynamic environment, the challenge for us is to create flexible and adaptable options.’

Agriculture to benefit from trade deal with Indonesia

Australia’s grains industry and other agricultural exporters will benefit from the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Photo courtesy of Getty Images/fStop).

Aussie farmers, as well as a range of other businesses in Australia and Indonesia, are set to reap the rewards following the signing of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA).  

IA-CEPA is a trade agreement that will boost our already strong economic, security and strategic partnerships with Indonesia. Following the signing of IA-CEPA in March 2019, Australia and Indonesia are working to complete our respective domestic ratification processes in order for the agreement to enter into force.

By building on the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, IA-CEPA will mean that over 99% of Australian goods exported to Indonesia will enter duty-free or under significantly improved arrangements. In turn, all Indonesian exports will enter Australia duty-free.

Indonesia will eliminate tariffs on frozen beef, sheep meat and all dairy products, and improve access under tariff rate quotas for live cattle, feed grains, citrus, carrots and potatoes, with quota volumes that grow over time.

Read more about Agriculture to benefit from trade deal with Indonesia

For example, IA-CEPA offers duty-free access for 575,000 head of live male cattle in the first year, growing at 4% per year to 700,000 head.

This will benefit cattle producers in regional Australia, as well as Indonesia’s feedlot and meat processing sectors.

Large quantities of Australian wheat are already milled and processed in Indonesia, including for production of Indonesia’s world famous Indomie noodles, which are exported around the world.

Building on this successful grain trade, IA-CEPA offers guaranteed duty-free access for 500,000 tonnes of feed grain (wheat, barley and sorghum) in the first year, increasing at 5% per year.

IA-CEPA will also improve conditions for Australian services suppliers and for two-way investment. Australian investors and services suppliers will have greater certainty for entry and operation in the Indonesian market, helping to enable more Australian investment in Indonesia. This will help Australians meet Indonesia's growing needs for investment and for world class services in its market.

Other IA-CEPA highlights include:

  • An increase in the number of work and holiday visas for Indonesians, from 1,000 to 5,000, helping producers needing seasonal workers.
  • A reciprocal skills exchange that allows well qualified people from both countries to gain six months experience in the others’ market.

For further information on IA-CEPA visit the Department of Foreign Affairs website.

A ‘grape’ success: Hort Innovation’s Taste Australia campaign in Indonesia

L-R: Mr Ritchie (Marketing Manager-PT Multi Cahaya Buana), Vania Wibisono (celebrity chef), Trish Gleeson (Agriculture Counsellor for the Department of Agriculture, Jakarta), Wini Yularti (Marketing and Promotion Manager PT Morelink Asia Pacific) and Mr Kunihito Kurosawa (GM Merchandising, AEON).

Aussie table grapes were served up in abundance at Hort Innovation’s Taste Australia campaign in Jakarta in April.

Agriculture Counsellor for the Department of Agriculture Trish Gleeson, is based in Jakarta and launched the campaign, highlighting the nutritional and health virtues of grapes.

‘Australia’s horticultural industry has a strong domestic and international reputation as a supplier of sustainable, premium safe food,’ Ms Gleeson said.

‘Australia and Indonesia's newly signed free-trade agreement, the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, paves the way for Australian horticulture producers to take advantage of exciting new export opportunities.’

Hort Innovationis the whole-of-horticulture brand used by industry to help increase the profile, sales and consumption of premium Australian horticulture products in key export markets.

The event, coordinated by Morelink Asia Pacific on behalf of Hort Innovation, was attended by a number of food bloggers and social media influencers.

It also involved a celebrity chef cooking demonstration by Vania Wibisono using Australian table grapes (and Trish as a kitchenhand).

For more on Hort Innovation’s Taste Australia campaign and table grapes promotion, visit the Taste Australia website.

Korea—Australia’s friend in the forest

(from left to right) Laura Timmins, Director of International Forest Policy with Department of Agriculture, Jesse Mahoney, Assistant Director with Department of Agriculture, Dr Ko Kiyeon and Ian McConville, KAFCC co-chairs, Emma Hatcher, Former Director of International Forest Policy with Department of Agriculture, and a Korean forest interpreter.

Australia and Korea have continued to strengthen forestry links and bilateral efforts to counter illegal logging at the 10th meeting of the Korea-Australia Forestry Cooperative Committee (KAFCC) in Daejeon, Korea.  

The International Forest Policy section in the Department of Agriculture and embassy representatives worked closely with our Korean forestry partners at the June meeting.

‘The meeting provided an opportunity to build our cooperation, particularly on our mutual efforts to combat illegal logging and associated trade,’ Ms Timmins said.

‘We regard Korea as a leader in promoting sustainable forest management in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly their remarkable achievement of doubling the country’s forest cover over the past 50 years.’

‘Korea is an important trading partner for Australia and we share many common aspirations and concerns for the forestry sector.’

Read more about Korea—Australia’s friend in the forest

The value of our collaborative relationship was showcased recently when our countries worked together to produce published guides about legal timber supply chains and laws. These help exporters and importers understand and comply with import requirements, facilitating trade in legal wood products.

‘Australia and Korea both have laws to tackle illegal logging, delivering transparent and legal timber supply chains that secure our domestic forest industries and improve the marketability of our legal wood products,’ said Ms Timmins.

Forest industries in both Australia and Korea are benefitting from greater demand for legal and sustainable wood products, and this is only set to grow with increasing recognition of wood as the ultimate renewable.

In 2017-18, Australia exported $23.6 million worth of wood products to Korea, and a further $1.9 million in secondary wood products.

In 2018, Australia imported more than $150 million worth of wood products from Korea that are regulated by our illegal logging laws.

For further information on Australia’s bilateral relationships on forestry visit our website.

Gates open in India for Aussie walnuts to join our almonds

Shipments of Aussie walnuts to India commenced in March.

Australia’s nut exports to India are to be boosted following news that we’ve also gained market access for walnuts.

This significant agricultural outcome came about after walnuts were identified as a new market access priority through the Hort Innovation Australia prioritisation process. 

Agriculture Counsellor for the Department of Agriculture Dr Nora Galway, is based in India and worked tirelessly to get this access finalised, with support from our technical plant experts, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Australia’s walnut industry.

‘India is already a large export market for Australian almonds and there is significant potential for our other nut commodities, so this will provide greater certainty for our industry,’ Dr Galway said.


Read more about gates open in India for Aussie walnuts to join our almonds

Dr Galway was crucial in facilitating discussions with the Indian government and Indian importers, and providing a point of contact for the Australian walnut industry in India.

This market access win provides a key additional market for Australian walnut producers, and is a central example of growing Australia’s economic relationship with India, as is recommended in the India Economic Strategy.

In 2017-18, Australia exported over $22.5 million worth of walnuts around the world.

Shipments of Australian walnuts to India commenced in May 2019.

For further information on exporting agricultural good from Australia visit Exporting from Australia.

Australia’s agriculture trade is in good hands

Australia has Agriculture Counsellors around the world, looking after our agricultural trade interests.

To facilitate strong Australian agricultural trade we need people on the ground in key trade locations, looking after market access for Australian products on foreign shores.

The Department of Agriculture has a network of 22 Agriculture Counsellors posted around the world who work closely with our biosecurity, exports and trade and market access areas to increase, improve and maintain market access for Australia.

Recently our Agriculture Counsellors returned to Canberra to commence a week of catching up with stakeholders and Australian agriculture, particularly following the election.

Through various sessions and presentations, they shared market knowledge and ideas, discussed where the agricultural trading environment is heading, and connected with industry and other government agencies.


Read more about Australia’s agriculture trade is in good hands

Acting head of the department’s Trade and Market Access Division Jodie McAlister said our Agriculture Counsellors are our eyes and ears on the ground. They work to progress the vital work done in the department in Canberra, securing future market access for Australia’s agricultural products, particularly as importing countries ramp up their regulatory regimes.  

‘Our Counsellors have been closely involved in numerous market access achievements for the benefit of Australian farmers and producers, and they play an important role in the continued growth of Australia’s agricultural trade.’

‘They also develop important diplomatic relationships to ensure we maintain existing access for our industries, resolve any issues with Australian goods on entry to their foreign destination, manage sensitive policy issues and provide market intelligence.’

Most recently, our Agriculture Counsellors, working with the department, were closely involved in establishing new market access for Aussie walnuts and oats to India, almonds to Chile, bee semen to Italy, and raw cotton to Iran.

They negotiated the lifting of the bans on our strawberries after the ‘pins in strawberries’ issues, and the bans on Australian melons when listeria was detected. And they improved access for our wine exports to Taiwan.

‘Our Agriculture Counsellors are based in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the America’s, and they work as part of the Australian mission with colleagues from other departments such as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to ensure Australia is represented strongly across all diplomatic areas,’ said Ms McAlister.

For more information on our Agriculture Counsellors or our market access achievements visit our website.

Keeping our food safe across the Asia-Pacific

Australia partners with other APEC economies to enhance food safety outcomes in international trade.

Opportunities for enhanced food safety and trade were on the table at the biennial Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Food Safety Cooperation Forum (FSCF) in Vina del Mar, Chile.

The Department of Agriculture’s Santiago-based Counsellor Ian Mortimer was part of the Australian delegation at the forum in May.

Mr Mortimer was joined by representatives from the department’s exports and trade and market access areas, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Food and Safety Australia-New Zealand.

Mr Mortimer said the FSCF was created in 2007 as a way for APEC member economies to work together to accelerate progress on harmonising food standards with international standards, and to strengthen capacity building activities and information sharing.


Read more about keeping our food safe across the Asia-Pacific

‘Since then, over 50 projects relating to food safety have been completed, focussing on activities that strengthen food safety systems, facilitate trade whilst ensuring food safety, foster the harmonisation of food standards with international standards, and provide capacity building support to APEC economies’ Mr Mortimer said.

Representatives took part in workshops about two successful Australian-led and funded projects, the first of which was designed to address barriers to trade that can result from differing national pesticide MRLs (Maximum Residue Limits).

The second involved an APEC framework that was developed to facilitate food trade in the APEC region through transparent, risk based applications of food safety controls.

‘We also participated in a workshop led by China on cross-border e-commerce. This highlighted the growth of e-commerce shipped by air, now making up 12% of global trade’ Mr Mortimer said.

‘Food only makes up a part of this trade, but overall cross-border e-commerce is growing. For example, in New Zealand they receive 18 million small, private consignments from overseas each year and this is expected to grow to 80  million per year within the next 10 years.

The next meeting of the FSCF will be hosted by New Zealand in 2021.

‘Australia is very much an active participant in the FSCF as demonstrated through our involvement each year, and our funding of critical projects—and our leadership in this space was acknowledged by the other APEC economies.’

For further information on importing food to Australia or exporting from Australia visit our website.


For coming trade and exhibition events, please go to the Austrade's event search.



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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