Agricultural Trade Matters, March 2019

​​​​​​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 March 2019.

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Aussie exports meeting new air cargo security screening requirements

Changes to air cargo screening took effect on 1 March 2019.

Air freight is an important export pathway for the movement of perishable agricultural products.

It’s a key element in Australia’s economy, enabling Australian producers to compete successfully in world markets.

Malcolm Thompson, Deputy Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, said Australia exported over 300,000 tonnes of perishable agriculture and seafood products by air in 2018. This included red meat, horticulture, seafood and dairy.

‘This is a huge amount, and I’m sure this year our export volumes will grow further,’ said Mr Thompson.


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‘Using air freight to transport agricultural exports gives producers the ability to maintain the safety and quality of their product during the transport process. It offers reduced handling and faster delivery times, allowing exporters to deliver a superior product into overseas markets.

‘With the introduction of the Enhanced Air Cargo Examination (EACE) program, my department worked closely with Austrade to support the Department of Home Affairs to build industry awareness and achieve the smoothest possible roll-out of these new screening requirements.

‘We recognise and appreciate the role that the airfreight industry played in helping exporters adjust to the new arrangements before 1 March 2019.

‘Similarly, a thank you to exporters for continuing to meet strict export and importing country requirements, which are so important for maintaining overseas market access and growing the value of our agricultural trade.

‘In addition to our role as a regulator, we look to support growth in agricultural exports. Efficient regulation of exports will enhance Australia’s reputation as an excellent source of reliable agricultural exports.

‘The Australian Government is investing an additional $83 million to capitalise on this reputation, to secure greater market access and to modernise our export systems.’

If you have any feedback on the implementation of the new screening requirements, or messages that we should be sharing with industry, please get in touch.

For more information visit Changes to air cargo screening requirements.

Improving Australia’s agricultural export legislation

Dairy is one of our many export industries.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is improving the current agricultural export legislative framework. This is a part of our wider initiative to strengthen Australian agricultural exports and market access.

Ann McDonald, Assistant Secretary, Export Legislation and Traceability Branch, said the improvements will make the laws more relevant, responsive and efficient for exporters, farmers and other primary producers. It will still provide strong regulation while removing duplication and ensuring consistency across commodities where possible.

‘We have released the draft milk, egg and fish rules for comment. These rules set out the operational requirements that exporters must meet to export milk, egg and fish products from Australia,’ said Mrs McDonald.


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‘We’re currently seeking feedback on the draft milk, egg and fish rules and we will be holding information sessions to discuss the proposed improvements. You can have your say by attending an information session or by providing a written submission. Submissions are open until Friday, 3 May 2019.’

These improvements will make the legislation easier to understand, administer and use and safeguard Australia’s reputation as a reliable, high-quality source of exports for our trading partners.

Subject to the passage of the Export Control Bill 2017 through Parliament, it is anticipated that the improved legislation will be implemented shortly before 1 April 2020, when the existing legislation ceases.

To register your interest in being informed of consultation opportunities visit Improving agricultural export legislation.

You can find the draft milk rules, draft egg rules, draft fish rules, supporting documents and information on how to make a submission on Have Your Say.

Industry and government working together to enhance traceability

Traceability helps support claims made about food.

From beef to barley, wool to wine, much of the food we eat carries certain claims such as where it comes from or how it’s been processed. And consumers, here and abroad, want to know more about the food they eat.

Movements like farm-to-table and paddock-to-plate are raising expectations. Producers are now expected to provide evidence to support claims made about food safety, authenticity, provenance, sustainability and quality.

Ann McDonald, Assistant Secretary, Export Legislation and Traceability Branch, said trading partners and domestic consumers alike want these claims to be well supported by fast and efficient traceability systems.

‘The Australian Government is working with industry and state and territory governments to develop a framework for traceability in Australia,’ said Mrs McDonald.


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‘We’re leading a cross-jurisdictional Traceability Working Group, with membership from the states and territories, to develop this framework and, providing secretariat support and a point of contact for stakeholders.

‘We’ve engaged with industry on a number of fronts to provide feedback on the National Traceability Framework and its underlying principles. For example, we are hosting an online consultation on the department’s Have Your Say platform and have held co-design workshops.’

The framework, underlying principles and action plan have been finalised.

The new National Traceability Framework will enhance Australia’s agricultural traceability system, improve competitiveness and provide assurance for customers both domestically and abroad.

‘While our traceability systems are working, there’s more that can be done. Enhanced traceability systems improve food safety and quality assurance, make us more competitive and give our trading partners confidence in Australian produce.’

Find out more about the National Traceability Project.

Strengthening Australian agriculture and trade in Europe

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud (right), shaking hands with the European Union Commissioner Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan (left).

Australia’s reputation as a strong and reliable agricultural trade partner in Europe continues to grow, following an Australian Government delegation visit to Germany and the Netherlands in January.

Delegates joined the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud, at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture and the 11th Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Conference in Berlin. The group also toured the World Horticulture Centre, spoke to potential investors in Australian agriculture and visited local farm groups in the Netherlands.

Nicola Hinder, Minister Counsellor (Agriculture) in Brussels, said Australia is a big player in the European market, and praised the Netherlands’ continuous adoption of innovation and advancements in technology.

‘We had the opportunity to see innovative approaches being implemented by Dutch horticultural companies at the World Horticulture Centre,’ said Ms Hinder.


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‘We also toured Rotterdam Port, an important point of entry for many Australian agricultural exports entering the EU market.

‘As Minister Counsellor, I’m always working to increase and maintain markets for our agricultural exports, which account for approximately two thirds of Australian farm production. It was fantastic to see so many of our Australian products ready for market on the doorstop of Europe.’

The Global Forum for Food and Agriculture is part of the annual ‘Green Week’ in Germany. The annual event is focused on agriculture, food and technology, and attracts around 70-80 agriculture ministers, 1,700 exhibitors and 4,000 journalists from around the world.

Discussions focused on encouraging industry to adopt innovation and digital technology to improve the productivity, sustainability and profitability of food and agriculture sectors.

At the 11th Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Conference, the Minister chaired a break-out session on ‘identifying and using the potential of digitalisation’ and, in the margins, met with his counterparts from the European Union to advance Australia’s agricultural trade interests and discuss progress on the Australia-EU FTA.

‘Market access is one of the biggest parts of the agriculture portfolio,’ said Minister Littleproud.

‘After trade deals are done, we need to actually be able to send our farm products to the countries we want to.

‘Obtaining market access and negotiating export protocols are often very long processes which can be sped up by direct meetings between Ministers.

‘These kinds of meetings help deliver our farmers more options – more countries they can sell their produce to – when harvest season comes.’

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has 22 agricultural specialists working in Australian missions in key overseas markets.

Find out more about our overseas network.

Building ties with Texas A&M AgriLife Research

Australia’s Ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey (left) and Dr Peter Stover, Director for AgriLife Research at Texas A&M (right).

The Australian Government has finalised a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on research cooperation with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University. The MoU will establish a strong base for collaboration between AgriLife Reseach and Australian research organisations towards the common goal of strengthening education and research in agriculture, food, water and life sciences.

Australia’s Ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, met Dr Peter Stover, Director for AgriLife Research at Texas A&M, for the signing of the MoU in a visit to Austin, Texas on 24 January 2019.

The MoU is an outcome of the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud's visit to the USA in July 2018, where he toured the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M.

The MoU will help Australian research institutions to build relationships and work collaboratively with their peers in America.


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The size and resources of Texas A&M present significant opportunities for Australian research institutions to work together with Texas A&M to solve problems facing agriculture industries in both countries.

The Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences was established in 1911 and is widely recognised as a leader in dozens of academic programs, from long-established disciplines such as agricultural engineering or poultry science to newer majors such as viticulture and food systems industry management.

Australian institutions interested in learning more about the MOU can contact the Americas Trade and Market Access team in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources via phone on (02) 6272 3933.

Find out more about our overseas network.

Managing non-tariff measures for Australian farmers and exporters

Murray, an Australian wool farmer in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has launched a series of case studies, highlighting the way Australian producers and exporters ensure they’re meeting non-tariff measures (NTMs) from farm to export.

For Australian producers and exporters, NTMs are a normal part of doing business. They’re requirements that countries apply to traded goods separate to ordinary customs tariffs and can affect international trade by changing quantities traded, prices or both.

Filmed at Australian farms and export facilities, the videos are introduced by Fiona Simson, President of the National Farmers’ Federation. They feature interviews with producers and exporters. The case studies explore the way NTMs are managed in the product journey from farm to export for some of our major agricultural commodities, including wine, sugar and wool.


Read more about managing Non-Tariff Measures for Australian farmers and exporters

These videos are also a great way to showcase the standards that Australian produce is grown and manufactured to, and solidify Australia’s international reputation for safe and compliant products.

NTMs applied by importing countries ensure imported products are safe and healthy for consumers, protect countries from harmful pests and diseases that imported goods could carry, and help producers meet specific customer requirements.

In some cases, an NTM may be inconsistent with World Trade Organisation rules and will act as a barrier to trade for Australian agricultural food exports. The Australian Government is working with industry to address NTMs that are unfair, or overly costly barriers to trade.

These videos support improved understanding of NTMs, and complement the Australian Government’s Non-Tariff Barriers Action Plan to remove barriers for Australian businesses in overseas markets.

Find out more about NTMs.

Tariff cuts and better access for Australian farmers in 2019

Macadamia nuts are one of the hundreds of products Australian farmers can bank on overseas.

Australian farmers can expect to see more money coming through to the farm gate, following reduction and removal of significant export tariffs after the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) came into effect alongside a further round of tariff reductions under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement on the first of January this year.

Improving market access for Australia’s agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports is vital for supporting a vibrant, competitive agricultural industry.

Louise van Meurs, First Assistant Secretary, Trade and Market Access, said Australia exports around two thirds of our food and fibre, and the elimination of tariffs means our produce will be more affordable for consumers around the globe.


Read more about tariff cuts and better access for Australian farmers in 2019

‘Tariffs on a range of our farm produce going into China were finally eliminated on 1 January, with key exports including seafood, wine, most horticulture and processed food no longer impacted,’ said Ms van Meurs.

The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement has contributed to significant growth in exports over the last 12 months. Beef exports increased 34.5 per cent to $1 billion, wine exports increased 65.1 per cent to $982.7 million, dairy exports increased 38 per cent to $818.8 million, and navel orange exports increased 57.5 per cent to $87.2 million.

‘On top of that, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership took effect on 30 December 2018.’

Australia's ratification of the CPTPP meant Australian exporters benefitted from immediate tariff cuts for exports to Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam.

‘We’re giving our farmers more options overseas so they can sell where they choose, not just to the supermarkets here in Australia.’

Since January 2016, the Australian Government has delivered 106 key market access gains or restorations along with 94 key market access improvements or actions to maintain market access for Australian agriculture.

Find out more about our market access achievements.



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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