Agricultural Trade Matters, December 2020

Agricultural Trade Matters

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

This is the current edition, published December 2020.

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ATMAC grants supporting Aussie agricultural trade


Ensuring Australian food and agricultural products continue to move .

Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation (ATMAC) grants continue to benefit Australia by supporting activities that improve opportunities for Australian agricultural products in major and emerging overseas markets.

ATMAC grants are part of the Australian Government’s commitment to growing Australian agriculture into a $100 billion industry by 2030. Grants are focused on opening, improving, and maintaining access to overseas markets for Aussie agricultural products by building stronger relationships with our trading partners, neighbouring countries, and international organisations. The program has been a huge success!

A range of grants have already been awarded to a variety of Australian businesses and organisations.


Read more about ATMAC grants supporting Aussie agricultural trade

  • $76,400 to Dairy Australia to establish long-term strategic engagement between the Australian and Indian dairy sectors. The first phase of the project involved comprehensive research into the Indian dairy market to gain an understanding of India’s supply chain, state of the industry, key stakeholders and influencers, and consumer behaviours. Engagement activities with key stakeholders and influencers in India and Australia have already begun. A summary report prioritising a stakeholder engagement approach is currently being shared with the Australian Dairy Industry Working Group and relevant Australian dairy industry stakeholders.
  • $135,000 to Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) to ensure continued trade of live Australian cattle to Vietnam by partnering with the Department of Animal Health in Vietnam to harmonise animal welfare standards.
  • $100,000 to Australian Organic Ltd to host a series of webinars, aimed at Australian organic members and certified organic operators, to increase their knowledge about export market options in Germany, Sweden, and the UK. The webinars covered export-related content such as market access, market selection strategies, consumer trends, organic certification and more.
  • $91,000 to the Australian Food and Grocery Council, to support industry engagement and education activities. This includes the development of a new export guide for Indonesia which will help food and beverage exporters by providing information on Indonesia’s consumer trends, import compliance requirements and pathways to export. Indonesia is projected to be the world’s fourth largest economy by 2050, with per person consumption of key commodities like cereals and beef predicted to be greater than China.

Paula Perrett, Assistant Secretary in the Trade, Market Access and International Division spoke about the benefits of the ATMAC program saying that ‘ATMAC funded projects assist Australia’s agricultural sector realise improved export opportunities. With a further 3 years of funding available the program will continue to provide significant opportunities for our agricultural producers and exporters, particularly through grants aimed at expanding trade in emerging export markets with a high-growth potential’.

For more information visit Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation (ATMAC) grants.

Modernising the meat export regulatory system


Quality Australian meat is exported around the world.

The Australian Government is focused on modernising agricultural trade including streamlining meat export processes.

Measures announced in the 2020-21 federal budget support the development of a More Competitive Meat Industry by bolstering Australia’s reputation as a provider of high-quality safe meat, underpinned by a robust regulatory system.

To deliver strong outcomes for the export meat processing sector, a package of modernisation proposals has been developed in conjunction with, and strongly supported by, industry leaders – including senior representatives of the Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) and other export meat processing establishments.

David Hazlehurst, Deputy Secretary of the Department’s Agriculture Trade Group, said the modernisation of the export meat sector will be the most comprehensive undertaken since the 2011 Australian Export Meat Inspection System (AEMIS) reforms.


Read more about modernising the meat export regulatory system

“The package will modernise Australia’s regulatory approach. Our systems will be world’s best practice” Mr Hazlehurst said.

Major modernisation proposals include:

The Digital Services to Take Farmers to Markets measures include an investment of $222.2 million to modernise Australia’s agricultural export systems by reducing red-tape and improving regulation and service delivery for our producers and exporters.  Practically, this measure will transition departmental export systems online and provide a single portal for transactions between exporters and Government, streamlining processes for exporters and helping them experience faster and more cost‑effective services, while continuing to meet trading partners’ requirements.

The Building a More Competitive Meat Industry measure embeds modernisation activities that will keep Australia’s export systems world leading and introduces new regulatory assurance tools that reward high levels of conformance and targets any areas of poor compliance.  The measure also, introduces flexible assurance methods, including smarter technology, to ensure the Australian meat industry maintains and expands its global position as the number one supplier of choice.

The measures are part of the broader Busting Congestion for Agricultural Exporters package, worth over $328.4 million over four years from 2020-21, will slash unnecessary red tape to get products to export markets faster and support jobs in rural, regional, and remote Australia.

More information about the measures supporting agriculture, water and the environment are available from our website.

Transition from Brexit: what this means for Australian exporters


Negotiations for the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement are underway.

On 31 January 2020 the United Kingdom (UK) formally ceased to be a member state of the European Union (EU), in a move that will have big potential impacts on Australian exporters.

During a transition period that is in place until 31 December 2020, to allow time for new arrangements to be negotiated, current trading arrangements continue. The UK remains subject to EU rules and regulations, while the terms of the future UK-EU relationship are negotiated, including trade arrangements.

However, from 31 December 2020, the tariff-rate quotas (TRQ) that have allowed Australian producers to export agricultural goods to both the UK or EU market will be ‘split’ between the UK and EU. This will include Australia’s country specific quotas for beef, buffalo, sheep and goat meat, cheese (cheddar and cheese for processing), sugar and rice. The Australian Government is engaging with the UK and the EU to seek to ensure that the 'splits' do not leave Australian exporters at a commercial disadvantage and that agreed arrangements are implemented in a timely manner. The Australian Government is consulting closely with affected industries.


Read more about transition from Brexit: what this means for Australian exporters

The UK has published its new Global Tariff schedule that will apply from 1 January 2021. The UK is also attempting to establish a binding World Trade Organization (WTO) goods schedule and is rolling over relevant EU trade regulations into UK law.

Australian exporters to the UK and EU should consider whether these proposed changes could affect them. The Australian Government is working to reduce risks posed by Brexit after the transition period, while also identifying opportunities to enhance our relationships, including negotiating separate free trade agreements with both the UK and the EU.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, The Hon Simon Birmingham, officially launched negotiations for the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (AU-UK FTA) on 17 June 2020. Australia will pursue an ambitious and comprehensive FTA with the UK that drives increased two-way trade in goods and services, economic growth, and job creation.

‘We are seeking a comprehensive and ambitious free trade agreement with the UK. Through the FTA, we will seek to secure the elimination of tariffs on all goods and deliver expanded market access for Australian agricultural exports’ said Matthew Worrell, Assistant Secretary, Trade, Market Access and International Division of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

‘Concluding a high-quality FTA will assist in the economic recovery of both countries in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis and will provide an important signal of our shared commitment to global trade liberalisation’ Mr Worrell said.

You can follow the developments of the AU-UK FTA and Brexit, including arrangements for wine and various export requirements (e.g. certification) on the department website.

Agriculture Counsellors: good news for Aussie agriculture overseas!


Locations of the department’s Overseas Counsellors.

Australia is continually working and collaborating with governments and industries right around the world to ensure the trade of Aussie agricultural products into overseas markets. A great deal of this work is undertaken in key trade locations overseas by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s Agriculture Counsellors.

Agriculture Counsellors advocate Australia’s agricultural interests on an international stage and play a key role in expanding our $63 billion-dollar agricultural industry. They work to develop valuable growth opportunities for our agricultural sector, explore and develop new market opportunities for our farmers and exporters, help maintain existing market access, work to improve technical market access, and also provide key market intelligence.

‘The role of our Agriculture Counsellors in their different overseas posts is varied and complex’ said David Hazlehurst, Deputy Secretary of the Department’s Agriculture Trade Group.


Read more about Agriculture Counsellors: good news for Aussie agriculture overseas!

‘They provide Australia with useful information and data on the agriculture, fisheries and forestry policies of their host country, and manage sensitive policy issues on behalf of the Australian Government’

‘They also play an important role in rectifying any problems with Australian agricultural goods arriving overseas by working closely with international authorities, the Australian agricultural sector and the department's head office in Canberra’ said Mr Hazlehurst.

On top of this, our Agriculture Counsellors also speak at seminars in country, represent Australia at meetings and negotiations, respond to requests for information, and help to progress market access requests.

Some examples of the recent work undertaken by our Agriculture Counsellors to enhance market access and expansion include:

  • New access for eight new poultry establishments to export poultry to Singapore.
  • Improved access for Australian wine to Canada following a negotiated outcome to a World Trade Organization dispute regarding a number of discriminatory measures applied by Canada to Australian wine.
  • Improved access for Australian malting barley to India. India granted approval for phosphine as an alternative fumigant for malting barley. This is an important step in helping Australian barely producers and exporters to expand their export markets.
  • As part of our ongoing efforts to support science-based regulation, the department provided data to support Australia’s submission on glyphosate ban in Vietnam, helping to maintain access for a suite of horticulture products
  • Restored access for one Australian exporter to send beef intestines to Korea. The suspended establishment had its access restored after the department provided a comprehensive submission about our investigation and the corrective actions taken.
  • The Agriculture Counsellor to India, presented to the India Agricultural Outlook Forum. The presentation covered impacts of COVID-19 on global agricultural trade and policy responses taken by Australia, and possible learnings for India.
  • The Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia and our Counsellor for Agriculture shone the spotlight on Australia’s agricultural trade relationship with Malaysia, recently participating in the 12th World Halal Conference (WHC), including meeting with the Malaysian Minister for Agriculture and Food Industries. The WHC is a flagship event for Malaysia. It brought together 300 delegates in Malaysia and 1500 delegates virtually including government, business leaders, and halal industry representatives.

At present, the Australian Government has 17 Agriculture Counsellors located in key export markets covering Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas.

This means there are 17 dedicated agricultural and trade specialists worldwide, continually working to expand and develop trade and market access opportunities, with further posts to be filled when COVID-19 restrictions ease. This is great news for Australia.

Annual Agriculture Meetings with Thailand


Bilateral agriculture meeting with Thailand.

Annual meetings of the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement Expert Group on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and Food Standards, and the Australia-Thailand Joint Working Group on Agriculture (JWG) were recently held by videoconference for the first time.

These meetings support the $2.5 billion (2019-20) two-way trade in agriculture, fisheries and forestry products with Thailand. They provided the opportunity to strengthen the agriculture relationship between Australia and Thailand, and drive progress on priority market access requests and non-tariff measures.

Australian Co-chair Mr Chris Tinning, First Assistant Secretary, Trade, Market Access and International Division for the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment said there was positive discussion on next steps to finalise market access for cooked duck meat from Thailand and Hass avocados from Australia.


Read more about annual agriculture meetings with Thailand

‘Australia has since released a revised draft import risk review for cooked duck meat from Thailand for a 30-day public comment period. In turn, Thailand is reviewing Australia’s draft operational work plan for Hass avocados ahead of finalising import protocols. In response to COVID-19 travel restrictions, we agreed to consider alternative audit arrangements to facilitate commencement of trade’ Mr Tinning said.

‘Thailand agreed that Australia can now use a wider range of pesticides for control of Fuller’s Rose Weevil, a significant market access gain for Australia’s citrus industry.

We shared information on a range of topics including phytosanitary irradiation, pesticide residues, e-certification, Australia’s review of prawn import conditions and our emergency measures for Khapra beetle’ said Mr Tinning.

The discussion focused on two topics - the impact of COVID-19 on the agriculture sector and our governments’ response to limit the impacts; and the use of agricultural data to drive productivity. Australia gave an update on cooperation on irrigation water management, led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the Australian Water Partnership, with the Thai Royal Irrigation Department.

Our longstanding agricultural partnership with Thailand is underpinned by bilateral and regional cooperation projects including in the livestock sector and developing strong links between young farmers. Thai representatives noted that knowledge gained about organic vegetable production systems during visits to Australia is being put into practice in a trial project in Nakorn Sawan Province.

We will continue to work closely with Thailand on negotiating technical market access, exchange information on shared challenges in the agriculture sector, and maintaining international trade rules to facilitate economic recovery.

The new look Micor, simpler and easier for Aussie producers and exporters


The new look Micor, streamlining export processes for Aussie producers and exporters.

Exporters and producers now have an easier and more personalised way to address importing country requirements when exporting their products overseas.

The Manual of Importing Country Requirements (Micor) has been upgraded, making it simpler and easier for producers and exporters to use.

 “This work is part of the government’s broader Modernising Agricultural Trade initiative, that is also reviewing and updating the content in Micor” said Anna Somerville, Assistant Secretary of the department’s Export Standards Branch.

 “To date, well over 15,000 updates have been made to Micor as part of this work” Dr Somerville said.


Read more about the new look Micor, simpler and easier for Aussie producers and exporters

Micor is owned and managed by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. This website sets out the requirements that producers/exporters must meet, for products and commodities to be accepted for import into certain countries. Information available on Micor enables producers and exporters, as well as departmental staff, to identify importing country requirements.

This upgrade responds to user research and delivers a range of enhancement, making Micor simpler and easier to use, with latest updates including:

  • updated user interface, making it easier to find information
  • enhanced search function, making finding products easier
  • notification updates, that advise changes to importing country requirements
  • report-style printing, providing clearer reports that use less paper
  • compatible with tablets and mobile phones, making it simple to confirm importing country requirements on the move.

This is a win for our producers and exporters, ensuring our great Aussie produce gets into overseas markets faster and fresher.

Visit Micor and experience the new system today.

Aussie dairy gets green light for paperless certification for Japan


Paperless certification for Australian dairy products exported to Japan now up and running .

As part of its Modernising Agricultural Trade initiative the Australian Government has been undertaking a range of projects designed to make our trade pathways more streamlined.  Introducing electronic, or paperless certification (eCert), for Aussie products into overseas markets forms part of this broad work agenda.

Over the past 2 years, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has been building on our already strong trading relationshsip with Japan, to establish eCert for the export of Australian dairy products. Thanks to the combined efforts of the department’s Exports Division and oversease counsellor network, Australian dairy products exported to Japan have been being traded ‘paper-free’ for departmental issued certificates since 10 November 2020. Australian dairy now joins several other products like meat, wool, skins and hides that are already eCert traded with Japan.

Australia has a long been a world leader in paperless certification and the department’s export and trade teams continue to promote the value of eCert to our trading partners.


Read more about Aussie dairy gets green light for paperless certification for Japan

‘The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how our trade and export processes are conducted - eCert presents a unique opportunity to continue to trade in a secure and verifiable way, getting our products to the world’ said Nicola Hinder, Assistant Secretary of the department’s Meat Exports Branch.

‘Through its government to government exchange, eCert assists with the identification of potential fraudulent certification’ Ms Hinder said.

In addition to eCert for Aussie dairy products to Japan, Australia has also achieved several other eCert milestones.

Recently, the department’s Secretary signed the most comprehensive eCert agreement in the world, with his counterpart from the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries. This has allowed Australia to progress eCert exchanges with New Zealand for meat, dairy, seafood, and phytosanitary certificates since August 2020.

‘In our COVID-19 trading environment, eCert is not only a smarter way to do business – eliminating the need for paper-based documentation – but also helps to keep our people safe by reducing the need for in-person interactions in delivering hardcopy documents’ said Ms Hinder.

Traceability Grants Program helps combat seafood fraud


Australia seafood is a big export to overseas markets.

The Australian Government is investing $7 million in projects under the Traceability Grants Program. This includes $4 million awarded to 16 projects under round one (now closed), and $3 million available for projects under round two (opening 2020-21). The grants will improve supply chain traceability systems and arrangements that support the export of our agricultural commodities.

Traceability is the ability to follow the movement of a product through stages of production, processing, and distribution (ISO 22005:2007).  Australia’s agricultural traceability systems include all government regulation and industry arrangements that enable tracing of agricultural production and products, back and forward along entire supply chains. It means participants should be able to trace one step forward and one step back at each step in the supply chain.


Read more about Traceability Grants Program helps combat seafood fraud

Fast and accurate supply chain traceability systems are critical for our agricultural exports to gain and maintain a competitive edge in overseas markets and will help move us towards the industry goal of $100 billon in agricultural sector output by 2030.

Traceability of products informs consumers and trading partners about the products they buy, including information on:

  • provenance
  • authenticity
  • food safety
  • animal and plant pest and disease status
  • social matters such as sustainability and animal welfare practices.

An example of how these grants will make a real difference to Australia’s agricultural sector is the grant provided to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. The grant of $202,500 will allow them to apply advances in isotopic and elemental fingerprinting to determine the provenance of seafood. The project involves developing world first portable x-ray fluorescence technology to identify Australian grown seafood and protect against food fraud. It will support industry efforts to provide even stronger assurances to our trading partners and consumers about the origins, safety, and quality of Australian seafood.

The device is being developed as a portable, rapid, and convenient alternative to the current laboratory-based testing methods to determine the origin of seafood along the supply chain without sampling. The project will begin with a small number of seafood varieties harvested from across Australia and sold in the Sydney Fish Market, but it could be broadened to other seafood varieties and agricultural sectors once procedures have been established.

Details of the projects funded under round one of the Traceability Grants Program are available at

Ministerial engagement in multilateral events


Farming land in Ayre, Queensland, Australia.

Even if not face to face, Australia continues to participate in multilateral events that build the global settings needed to facilitate trade for our agricultural produce overseas.

The department recently supported Australia’s representation at several international virtual Ministerial engagements, all of which had a strong focus on the impacts of COVID-19 and governments’ efforts to aid the recovery. At the G20 Environment Ministers Meeting and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Ministerial Roundtable on a Green Recovery, Sussan Ley, Minister for the Environment, spoke about managing our waste and recycling challenge to create economic growth, bushfire recovery and climate adaptation and coral reef restoration.


Read more about Ministerial engagement in multilateral events

At the G20 Agriculture and Water Minister’s meeting, Keith Pitt, Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia spoke about the need for the international community to work together to manage the zoonotic risks associated with wildlife wet markets, the importance of maintaining open trade policy settings to support food security and sustainable and adaptive water management.

David Littleproud, Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, issued a pre-recorded statement for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Dialogue on Food Security, about the importance of maintaining strong multilateral relationships to facilitate open and reliable agricultural markets.

‘Our recent meetings reaffirmed the importance of multilateral fora, especially when addressing global challenges such as COVID-19. Australia’s active engagement and participation in these international discussions demonstrates our commitment to understanding and learning from how other countries are approaching the evolving situation’ said Matthew Worrell, Assistant Secretary of the International Organisations and Negotiations Branch at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

‘It also provides Australia with the opportunity to highlight the importance of policy settings to underpin agricultural production and trade to support food security globally’ Mr Worrell said.


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: 10 August 2021
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