Agricultural Trade Matters, March 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 March 2020.

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Major focus on trade and exports continues under new department

The department’s new corporate identity captures the breadth of the work we do.

The department’s new corporate identity captures the breadth of the work we do.

The new year brings with it a new decade. For the department, it also brings a new name and a new department head, Andrew Metcalfe AO.

On 1 February, the Department of Agriculture merged with the environment functions from the Department of the Environment and Energy. We are now the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

Secretary Metcalfe said the integration offers the ideal opportunity to drive greater collaboration on important policy challenges.

‘We’ll be improving outcomes across agriculture, water and the environment for all Australians—the work that we do today has far-reaching impacts now and for future generations,’ Mr Metcalfe said.

‘As a department, we continue our major focus on keeping our export markets open, and identifying opportunities to achieve new access.



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‘Exports are critical to securing the long-term future of Australian agriculture—we are in a strong position to grow our trade for the benefit of our agriculture industries.

‘Our new department will strengthen the Australian Government’s ability to deliver effective, sustainable resource policy outcomes—critical to keeping our agriculture industries internationally competitive.’

Visit our new corporate website to find out more about the new department.

Ensuring export legislation moves with the times

The new Export Control Bill package will commence shortly before 1 April 2021.

The new Export Control Bill package will commence shortly before 1 April 2021.

On 4 December 2019, the Export Control Bill package, composed of the Export Control Bill and 4 supporting bills, was introduced into Australian Parliament.

The package, together with commodity specific rules, will replace export related provisions in over 20 Acts and 40 pieces of delegated legislation that currently regulate agricultural exports.

Head of Export Legislation and Traceability Ann McDonald said that the new export legislation will provide the same level of regulatory oversight, while adding many benefits.

‘It will make the legislation more relevant, responsive and efficient, and will remove duplication and ensure consistency across commodities where possible,’ Ms McDonald said.

‘This will help exporters, farmers and other primary producers understand and comply with their legal responsibilities.’

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The benefits of the new export legislation include:

  • consolidation of export-related provisions into a single Act
  • increased flexibility to respond to changing importing country requirements and realise opportunities in overseas markets, arising from:
    • the ability to certify a broader ranges of goods intended for export
    • an increase in the types of goods eligible for government certification
    • more rapid implementation of changes
  • improved options for demonstrating product integrity, where required by the importing country
  • streamlined administration including:
    • simplified approval by authorised officers
    • consolidation of fit and proper person tests
  • providing a graduated compliance and enforcement regime which will allow the department to better target sanctions and ensure more proportionate responses to non-compliance
  • a provision to support innovation along the export supply chain.

The department’s Export Legislation Taskforce is supporting the passage of the Export Control Bill Package through Parliament, and drafting and consulting on commodity-specific Export Control Rules 2020.

The Rules are based on the current Export Control commodity orders and are part of the delegated legislation under the Export Control Bills Package.

The improved legislative framework will commence shortly before 1 April 2021.

‘We encourage everyone involved in the export industry to stay up to date on improvements to export legislation by signing up for updates on our website,’ Ms McDonald said.

For more on the bill, and to register your interest to be contacted about export legislation, visit Improving agricultural export legislation.

A new face in Korea for agricultural trade

Emma Hatcher commenced as our Agriculture Counsellor based in Korea in late 2019.

Emma Hatcher commenced as our Agriculture Counsellor based in Korea in late 2019.

Australia has a new representative in Korea to drive our agricultural trade interests. Emma Hatcher commenced her role as agriculture counsellor based in Seoul in October 2019, and is pursuing ag trade in the Republic of Korea, Taiwan and Mongolia.

‘It’s a tremendous privilege to represent Australia’s agricultural interests in these markets,’ Ms Hatcher said.
‘Having grown up in rural South Australia, I’m very aware of the importance of strong export markets for sustaining producers and regional communities.’

In 2018/19, Australia exported $3.2 billion worth of agricultural products to Korea and they remain our 4th largest market for agricultural trade.

‘Korea only produces around a third of its own food so there’s a lot of international competition to supply here. Australian agricultural produce is already well established in a number of areas but there are also further opportunities for Australian products not yet in the market,’ Ms Hatcher said.  

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‘Korea is also working to increase the productivity of their agriculture sector and are emerging as potential leaders in AgTech, which could provide significant partnership opportunities for Australia.

‘Australia is in a strong position to boost our agricultural trade with both Korea and Taiwan. At the same time there is plenty of work to do to maintain and improve our existing market access.

‘It’s really important for Australian producers to develop and nurture their commercial relationships in Korea and Taiwan, and I’ve enjoyed meeting with Australian producers and exporters to talk about this,’ Emma said.

Emma has worked with the department for 4 years and her experience spans international forest policy and combatting illegal logging, as well as international trade with various agencies. She also worked at the United Nations in Vienna.

‘Three years in this role will go very quickly so I’m going to use every opportunity to fly the Aussie flag as much as I can to progress our agricultural trade interests,’ Ms Hatcher said.

Read more about our overseas network on our website.

Stay up to date on BREXIT advice

BREXIT advice regarding agricultural trade

Stay up to date on BREXIT advice

Following approval of the BREXIT withdrawal agreement, the United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. A transition period is now in place which is scheduled to run until 31 December 2020. This time will allow the UK and the EU to establish the terms of their future trading relationship, including a potential Free Trade Agreement. It will also enable the UK to commence negotiations on free trade agreements with other countries, such as Australia. During this transition period, existing arrangements for Australian exporters to the UK and EU remain in place.

To stay up to date on post-BREXIT advice regarding agricultural trade see Preparing for BREXIT on our website.

Further information is also available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade BREXIT page.



More Aussie cherries headed for Korea

The first shipment of cherries from mainland Australia is already on its way to Korea thanks to the finalisation of market access for our exporters.

The first shipment of cherries from mainland Australia is already on its way to Korea thanks to the finalisation of market access for our exporters.

Korea is set to become a major destination for cherries from eastern Australian states, with market access finalised in January 2020.

Former agriculture counsellor for Korea, Jemma Martin, recently returned from her 4 year posting to Seoul.

‘After a strong focus on progressing market access for our cherries, it’s very rewarding to see the first batch is now on its way to Korea,’ Ms Martin said.

‘This is a significant outcome for the Australian industry, as cherries have been a top market access priority since 2014.

‘It also builds on our existing market access arrangements for cherries from Tasmania.’

The protocol was agreed at the Australia-Korea Plant Quarantine Technical Discussions held in December 2019, and included establishment of Korea’s first methyl bromide fumigation treatment protocol for Queensland fruit fly.


Read more about Aussie cherries headed for Korea

‘This market access win is quite a breakthrough for the Australian cherry industry,’ Ms Martin said.

Around three quarters of our cherries comes from the mainland areas of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, and in 2018-19 we exported over $79 million worth of cherries worldwide.

‘Korea is proving to be a growing market for Australian horticulture, and seeing the doors open for more of our cherries is a great outcome for our producers and exporters,’ Ms Martin said.

‘In Australia, mainland cherry production peaks in November and December, so the fruit can be airfreighted to key markets in Asia early in the new year—which now includes Korea.

‘This may prove to be one of, if not the top export market for delicious Australian cherries.’

For further information visit Exporting from Australia on our website.

New agriculture counsellor in Malaysia

Sanjay Boothalingam will join our network of agriculture counsellors overseas.

Sanjay Boothalingam has joined our network of agriculture counsellors overseas.

Sanjay Boothalingam became Australia’s agriculture counsellor to Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam in March 2020, and will help build networks with industry and government in both countries.

Sanjay said he eagerly anticipates contributing to the success of Australia’s agricultural exports.

‘Agriculture makes an extremely important contribution to our national economy, and it is an absolute honour and a privilege to represent Australia and our agriculture sector,’ Mr Boothalingam said.

‘I feel very fortunate—I have always been very passionate about agriculture and the importance of regional and rural Australia to our economy.’

Sanjay will build upon industry and government relationships within the two countries, identify market access opportunities, facilitate trade and advocate for minimising barriers to trade.

Read more about new agriculture counsellor in Malaysia

Malaysia and Brunei remain Australia’s key export markets amongst the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, with the two-way trade in agricultural commodities with the two countries totalling over $2 billion annually.

‘The demand for Australia’s world class produce and services is only expected to grow and I look forward to assisting our agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors in taking advantage of the enormous opportunities in the region,’  Mr Boothalingam said.

Australia is Malaysia’s main source of sheep meat and wheat. Their focus on manufacturing provides excellent opportunities for Australia to further diversify our agricultural trade beyond the traditional commodities. Our trade with Malaysia is underpinned by two free trade agreements—the Malaysia Australia Free Trade Agreement and the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.

Sanjay joined the then Department of Agriculture in 2000, and has spent his two decades in the public service between this department and the Australian Treasury.

He has led a number of national programs and has extensive experience in the development of biosecurity and human health policy, compliance, and foreign investment.

More recently, Sanjay was involved in protocol negotiations and the regulation of Australia’s live animal export trade.

See further information about our agriculture counsellors on our website.

Australia’s 2020 Nuffield Scholars head to Rome

The 46th session of the Committee on World Food Security was held at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization headquarters in Rome from 14-18 October 2019.

The 46th session of the Committee on World Food Security was held at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization headquarters in Rome from 14-18 October 2019.

In October 2019, a dozen of the 2020 Nuffield Scholars enjoyed a taste of Italy when they attended the 46th plenary session of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in Rome.

The CFS provides an international platform for government, private sector organisations, civil society and research organisations to discuss issues and solutions for global food security and nutrition. The CFS receives technical support for this work from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other Rome-based agencies.

Our agriculture counsellor based in Rome, Lynda Hayden, met with the scholars in the margins of the event.

‘The involvement of the Nuffield scholars program at the CFS plenary session provides a fantastic opportunity for us to foster connections between Australia’s agricultural industries and international development processes,’ Ms Hayden said.

‘Their participation in the plenary session provided the scholars with a valuable opportunity to not only shape the development of international food policies that may affect their farm businesses, but to also expand their professional networks and expertise.’

Read more about Australia’s 2020 Nuffield Scholars head to Rome

The CFS plenary session is held annually and is the pre-eminent global forum for debate, lesson learning, collaboration and building consensus amongst a diverse group of people involved in food systems on food security issues.

‘At this year’s event discussions focused on food systems and nutrition, urbanisation and rural transformation, multi-stakeholder partnerships for financing food security, and innovative approaches to sustainable agriculture,’ Ms Hayden said.

‘The Nuffield scholars in attendance at CFS 2019 came from a range of different agricultural backgrounds­, from cattle properties to organic vegetable production, and it was great to see them bring their practical, on the ground experiences to the multilateral stage.’

Each year, the Nuffield Australia Farming Scholars program awards scholarships to Aussie farmers to help increase their practical farming knowledge and management skills, with the view of advancing Australian agriculture.

Their role in the program also involves visiting New Zealand, Europe, Asia and the Americas to learn about local farming practices.

Further information on the UN Committee on World Food Security.

To learn about the scholarship program visit the Nuffield Australia Farming Scholars website.





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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 phytosanitary (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: 16 August 2021
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