Agricultural Trade Matters, February 2018
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 February 2018.
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Improvements to Australia’s agricultural export laws have reached another milestone with the introduction of the Export Control Bill 2017 into the Australian Parliament in December 2017.
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources engaged with industry, international trading partners, state and territory governments and other interested parties over a 60 day public consultation period.
Head of the Export Legislation Taskforce, Dr Ann McDonald, said the department received a total of 25 submissions and, based on the feedback received, some minor changes were made to the Bill prior to its introduction.
Information sessions to discuss the changes to the legislative framework were held, providing an opportunity to identify, discuss and resolve potential issues.
Read more about Export Control Bill 2017 introduced into the Australian Parliament
To support the Bill, Export Control Rules are in development.
“The Export Legislation Taskforce will now focus on supporting the Bill’s passage through Parliament and the development of the legislative instrument that supports the Act – the Export Control Rules.
“The rules will be drafted during 2018 and 2019. Consultation will be undertaken as each commodity-specific part of the rules is developed” said Dr McDonald.
The improved legislative framework will be implemented shortly before 1 April 2020, when the existing legislation ceases.
These improvements will make the legislation easier to understand, administer and use; safeguarding Australia’s reputation as a reliable, high-quality source of exports for our trading partners.
The schedule for the development of the rules can be found on the department’s website.
Former Assistant Minister for Agricultural and Water Resources, the Hon. Luke Hartsuyker MP (right), presenting the Regional Exporter award to Mr Rick Ertler, Premium Fresh Tasmania.
A number of agricultural exporters have been recognised at the 55th Australian Export Awards, including Premium Fresh who took home the 2017 Regional Exporter award, sponsored by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, and Yumbah Aquaculture, for the 2017 Agribusiness award.
The national awards, held in Canberra last December, are co-presented by Austrade and
the Australian Chamber of Commerce.
“The awards provide the department with a good opportunity to recognise innovative Australian companies for their export activities and strategy, in expanding international trade.
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources sponsored the awards and helped judge the Regional Exporter and Agribusiness awards.
Read more about Australian exporters take home awards at the 55th Australian Export Awards
“We export some of the best produce in the world – produce that’s in high demand internationally – so it’s great to support the Australian Export Awards”, Ms Meurs continued.
Premium Fresh Tasmania won the 2017 Regional Exporter of the Year award for outstanding international success by a business whose head office is based in a non-metropolitan area. It has grown from a small farming enterprise to one of the largest vegetable growing, washing, grading and packing operations in Australia.
The Southern Hemisphere’s largest abalone producer, Yumbah Aquaculture, won the 2017 Agribusiness award. The award is presented for outstanding international success in the field of agricultural products, services or technology.
The Australian Export Awards operate as a two-tier process. Businesses enter through their state and territory export awards programs. Local winners then progress to the national finals, where they are benchmarked against their peers, to determine the winner of each award category and the Australian Exporter of the Year award.
Australian canola in full bloom.
In December 2017, Australia became the first non-European Union (EU) nation to have its greenhouse gas (GHG) saving calculations for canola endorsed, following acceptance of a report by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) on behalf of the Australian oilseeds industry into GHG savings gained from using Australian canola for European biofuel.
The EU is Australia’s most valuable export market for canola, with sales worth over $1 billion in 2016-17 – nearly 90 per cent of Australia’s total canola export value. Canola is Australia’s most valuable agricultural export to the EU.
Australian canola is primarily imported into the EU for use in biofuel production. Following extraction of the oil, the remaining meal is used in animal feed.
Read more about Australian canola helps EU meet its new greenhouse gas emission standards
Prior to 2018, the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED) set a mandated minimum of 35 per cent GHG savings for biofuels compared to fossil fuels. An international default value of 38 per cent savings in GHG emissions applied to canola.
The report was in response to recent changes in EU environmental regulations. From 1 January 2018, the GHG savings requirement increased from 35 per cent to a minimum of 50 per cent. This meant that the default canola value was no longer sufficient.
In order to ensure Australia’s canola trade continued into the EU after 1 January 2018, Australia needed to verify its canola production emissions levels.
The Australian Oilseed Federation and the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre commissioned CSIRO to produce an Australian ‘Country Report’, to verify the level of GHG emissions for canola cultivation in Australia on a region-by-region basis.
This report was submitted to the European Commission (EC) in 2016 for its assessment and endorsement. This endorsement ensures the continued supply of Australian canola to this valuable market for at least the next five years.
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources actively engaged with the EC and industry during 2017 and, in December 2017, Australia’s Country Report was assessed as meeting the revised requirements of the RED and its values endorsed.
This endorsement provides certainty that EU fuel suppliers will continue to use Australian canola as part of their renewable energy mix.
A delegation from China’s Ministry of Agriculture visited Australia last November, as part of the Australia-China Agriculture Cooperation Agreement (ACACA) program, to learn about Australia’s systems for regulating genetically modified organisms (GMO) and genetically modified (GM) agri-foods.
During the visit, Australian Government representatives were able to gain a better understanding of China’s systems of GM regulation and approval.
The delegation was led by staff from China’s Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Science and Education and included key scientists from Chinese research institutions who report to the Chinese Government on the safety and risks associated with new gene technology.
The delegation met with staff from the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) in Canberra and gained a deeper understanding of OGTR’s regulatory role and risk management system for gene technology in Australia.
Read more about China delegation learns about Australia's GM food regulation
While in Canberra the delegation also met representatives from Food Standards Australia New Zealand and the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to understand their roles in regulating GMO food labelling and pesticides respectively.
The delegation also met with state government representatives in Victoria and New South Wales to learn how different states manage GMO in partnership with the OGTR.
In Victoria, the delegation visited AgriBio, the Centre for AgriBioscience, to view research underway by Agriculture Victoria. The delegation then viewed GM cotton site trials in Narrabri, New South Wales, led by the CSIRO at the Australian Cotton Research Institute.
The ACACA program is administered by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and aims to develop the Australia-China bilateral trading relationship and to provide a forum for the exchange of scientific information.
A new ACACA grants opportunity opened on 13 February 2018 for funding for projects and trade missions to China. To register your interest or apply, visit the Australian Government grant opportunities website at GrantsConnect and visit the department’s website to join the ACACA mailing list.
For further information on the ACACA program, visit the department website
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources recently hosted a delegation from South Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
The November visit presented an opportunity for discussion around how Australia’s
farmers are encouraged to be independent and self-reliant through the help of Research and Development Corporations.
The visit further strengthens ties with Australia’s fourth largest trading partner.
“Our trading relationship with Korea is one of the strongest in the Asia-Pacific region” said Louise van Meurs, First Assistant Secretary of the Trade and Market Access Division at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
Read more about strengthening trade ties with South Korea
“This meeting expanded on our ongoing cooperation under our free trade agreement” Ms van Meurs continued.
Since the introduction of the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) in 2014, Australia’s exports to Korea have grown to around $3.3 billion in 2016-17. Korean exports to Australia have risen 90 per cent.
With more than 50 million people and limited agricultural land, Korea imports about 70 per cent of its food and agriculture. Around 50 per cent of its beef imports come from Australia.
Beef is seeing significant cuts in tariffs under the KAFTA. The fifth round of tariff cuts (that came into effect 1 January 2018), has seen a drop from 29.3 per cent to 26.6 per cent. Tariffs will be fully eliminated for Australian beef over the next 10 years.
To learn more about Australia’s trade relationship with Korea visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.
New season cherries started arriving in Vietnamese markets last November following the announcement of agreed conditions during a 2017 visit to Vietnam by Senator the Hon. Anne Ruston, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources.
Since that announcement, Cherry Growers Australia (CGA) were inundated with inquiries from members looking to ship to Vietnam in the 2017-18 season to take advantage of strong consumer demand and the commercially viable import conditions secured in the protocol.
CGA Chief Executive, Tom Eastlake, confirmed the significance of securing irradiation as a treatment option, noting that it will pave the way for airfreight shipments from all Australian states.
He also stressed the importance of an Australian cherry promotional campaign developed by CGA and Austrade, aimed at importers and retailers in Vietnam.
Read more about Vietnam 'cherry ripe' for Australian exports
“While acknowledging the strong demand from Vietnamese importers and consumers, CGA also wanted to build market share and worked with Austrade on a cherry promotional campaign, launched in Hanoi on 12 December and Ho Chi Minh City on 14 December.
“The campaign included a technical workshop providing importers and retailers information about the types of cherries produced in Australia, how to select cherries to best suit consumer preferences in Vietnam, ways to store cherries to ensure the longest possible shelf life and effective marketing strategies”, Mr Eastlake said.
Improving market access for Australia’s agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports is vital for supporting a vibrant competitive agricultural industry, learn more about our market access achievements.
Another link for more information could be Export Industry Advice Notice 2017-38
Horticultural trade and market access were the focus of discussions at the Plant Quarantine Technical Experts Meeting held in Wakayama City, Japan on 31 August 2017.
An Australian delegation, lead by Assistant Secretary Mr David Ironside from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, was hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to further develop cooperation and understanding of each country’s plant biosecurity needs.
The delegation took part in a fact-finding visit for Japanese strawberries in the Tochigi Prefecture, before engaging in discussions in Wakayama.
The talks highlighted the positive relationship between the two countries. Both sides discussed market access for Australian avocadoes to Japan and Japanese strawberries and persimmons to Australia.
Read more about growing Australian horticulture exports to Japan
The delegation completed several more site visits, overseeing orchards and pack houses before flying home from Tokyo.
Japan is Australia’s second largest agricultural, forestry and fisheries market. In 2016 the market was worth $5 billion.
Australia and Japan have a strong relationship supported by the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA).
JAEPA first started on 15 January 2015 and has been called the “most liberalising trade agreement Japan has ever concluded”. Notably, the JAEPA has provided great market outcomes for Australian horticulture, including cessation of tariffs on sugar and export of fruit almost doubling in value from $57.8 million in 2015 to $102 million in 2016.
Australia and Japan have highly complementary economies, which requires mutual exchange of concessions to achieve benefits for the agricultural sector as a whole.
The department looks forward to continuing to develop this economic relationship, benefitting Australian farmers.
Offshore biosecurity treatments play an important role by mitigating the risks associated with cargo prior to arrival in Australia. One of those treatments is methyl bromide fumigations. To manage the biosecurity risk posed by ineffective fumigations overseas, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources administers the Australian Fumigation Accreditation Scheme.
The scheme is supported by a series of compliance partnerships between the department and participating Overseas Government Agencies (OGAs). As part of these arrangements, an annual Joint System Review (JSR) is required.
During 2017, members from these partnerships worked with OGAs to complete JSRs in Fiji, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, PNG, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Read more about how a Joint Systems Review of offshore fumigation with our overseas partners is undertaken
What does a JSR involve?
A JSR begins with a meeting between the department and the OGA to discuss recent OGA fumigation activities, management of AFAS and the JSR schedule.
An assessment is conducted of the OGA’s compliance management practices and joint treatment provider compliance assessments are undertaken.
During the treatment provider compliance assessments, the department also gets the opportunity to observe OGA officer’s compliance management activities. OGA officer knowledge is assessed, as is the efficacy of the OGA’s audit processes. Mentoring is provided to OGA officers and feedback is provided where improvements can be made.
Upon completion of the treatment provider assessments, a closing meeting takes place with the OGA to discuss the outcome of the JSR.
How are treatment providers selected?
The treatment providers are selected based on analysis of departmental data and intelligence. The assessment includes observing a fumigation demonstration and reviewing fumigation documentation.
Issues identification and learnings
The final component of the JSR is an industry information session.
Members of the fumigation industry are invited to an open discussion with OGA officers and departmental officials where issues identified during the JSR are discussed. An opportunity is then provided for attendees to ask questions of the OGA and the department.
Following the completion of each JSR, a comprehensive report is provided to the OGA that explains the JSR’s outcomes and details each company’s assessment performance.
Want to know more? Visit the department’s webpage about treating cargo outside Australia.
The Non-tariff measures (NTMs) Working Group, formed to develop a more coordinated approach by government and industry to addressing the impact of NTMs on Australia’s exporters, has now entered its second year.
Most NTMs that are in place globally are justified and reasonable — just as Australia also applies NTMs through the application of sanitary and phytosanitary measures and food safety standards on the import of goods to protect Australia’s human, animal and plant health.
The NTM working group has held a number of meetings since its first meeting in August 2016. The latest meeting, held on 29 November, discussed a number of issues such as the impact of Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) and the role of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) in addressing NTMs.
Future discussions will examine the role of international standard-setting bodies in reducing the impact of NTMs and specific actions to support this.
Read more about Non-tariff measures working group update
The working group is chaired by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, and includes the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Austrade, state/territory governments, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) and industry members such as Wine Makers Federation Australia, Dairy Australia, Meat and Livestock Australia and the Grains Industry Market Access Forum.
In addition to discussing the range of NTMs of significance to industry, the working group is also supporting a number of projects to address NTMs including:
- a project to support improved understanding of the impact of NTMs, through developing a method for quantifying the impact NTMs on export commodities;
- specific international strategies to address NTM priorities, such as development of international guidance on implementation of risk-based approaches to food safety; and
- industry-led NTM projects such as: the AFGC development of information materials to support awareness of Australia’s food safety and export regulations; development of an AFGC guide/forums to assist Australian exporters understand regulatory pathways into the Chinese market; and an NFF project to support policy and marketing messages during Australia–European Union Free Trade Agreement negotiations.
These projects have been supported through funding by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resource’s ATMAC program.
The next NTM Working Group meeting will be held on 5 March 2018. IF you would like to know more, please contact NTM.
Australia’s reputation as a strong agricultural trade partner is further on the rise in Latin America following the introduction of the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement (PAFTA) last year.
Finalised in record time (just six months), the PAFTA builds on the Australia-Chile Free Trade Agreement (ACIFTA). It is the next step in cultivating Australia’s image as a profitable trade partner for the region.
Upon full implementation, 99.4 per cent of tariffs will be eliminated for Australian exporters. PAFTA will also improve trade conditions for sugar, dairy, rice and sorghum farmers.
Australian sugar farmers, in particular, have achieved better market access than any other sugar exporting country for the past two decades. When put into practice, PAFTA will allow Australia up to 30,000 tonnes of sugar to be exported to Peru duty free, growing to 60,000 tonnes in five years and 90,000 tonnes in 18 years.
Read more about ¡Hola! Australian agriculture bound for Latin America
The Australian Government continues to work on improving trade and market access in this part of the world. The conclusion of PAFTA paves the way for negotiations with Pacific Alliance on a potential Free Trade Agreement.
The Pacific Alliance, a regional trading block made up of Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia, includes some of the fastest growing economies for the region. It accounts for 46 per cent of Latin America’s exports and 50 per cent of its imports.
Australia is one of the few countries the Pacific Alliance will seek to secure an FTA with, presenting new export opportunities for Australian farmers.
Australian agricultural trade negotiators were in Washington DC in November for a meeting of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) SPS (Sanitary-Phytosanitary) Committee.
The meeting aimed to build key relationships within the US system.
This is the first time the SPS Committee meeting has been held in person since 2012. It was co-chaired by Louise Van Meurs, First Assistant Secretary of the Trade and Market Access Division at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
The AUSFTA SPS Committee meeting is an important bilateral mechanism for Australia and the US to discuss SPS matters. It is supported by separate technical discussions and the AUSFTA Standing Technical Working Group on Animal and Plant Health (STWG).
Read more about Uniting trade interests in the States
Each country’s market access priorities were discussed, along with valuable exchanges around cooperation, including pesticides, Codex and the regulation of new technologies.
These discussions were complemented by separate meetings with the US Trade Representative’s Office and various agencies within the US Department of Agriculture.
Other meetings in Washington—with US agricultural representatives, various agricultural attaches, Capitol Hill, the US Centre for Strategic and International Studies, and the US National Fisheries Institute—also provided special insight to the US system and trade policy.
Agricultural trade between Australia the US was worth $6.2 billion in the 2016-17 financial year. This visit helped to grow key relationships and build understanding of US dynamics.
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.
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.