Agricultural Trade Matters, May 2017

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 May 2017.

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Chinese Premier Li's visit to Australia agreed agricultural trade and cooperation outcomes

Pictured (from left): Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Wang Yi, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce.

The visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Australia in late March 2017 was a chance for Australian farmers and exporters to leverage opportunities to grow agricultural trade and cooperation between the two countries, and to enhance the benefits to be gained from the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).

With a population of more than 1.3 billion, China is the world’s second largest importer of agricultural, food and fisheries products, and Australia’s largest export market by value. Australia’s agricultural exports to China were worth over $10 billion in 2016, a 36 per cent increase over the last five years.

During Premier Li’s visit, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi signed a joint statement agreeing to important chilled meat market access outcomes for Australia as well as advancing Australia’s access for tripe, initiating trade in donkey meat and edible skins and promoting the finalisation of a protocol for the export of Australian slaughter sheep and goats to China.

Also during Premier Li’s visit, Daryl Quinlivan, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, and Cheng Jingye, China’s Ambassador to Australia, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Food Safety and a Plan of Action on Implementing Agricultural Collaboration Projects strengthening the cooperative agriculture relationship between Australia and China.

Read more about Chinese Premier Li's visit to Australia…

ChAFTA has continued to deliver significantly improved access for Australian agriculture products and foods by eliminating tariffs across a range of key products, mostly within four to eight years.

ChAFTA’s tariff cuts have already supported strong growth across a range of commodities in the 2016 calendar year.

For example, Australian table grape exports to China are up 564 per cent—in 2016 they were valued at $101.9 million compared to $15.3 million in 2015.

Strong growth has been seen for Australian wine exports, growing from $363 million in 2015 to $516 million in 2016.

Other key tariff reductions under ChAFTA have benefitted the dairy, horticulture and seafood industries, with strong growth across these sectors.

By full implementation of ChAFTA on 1 January 2029, 97.9 per cent of Australia’s total goods exports to China will enter duty free or at preferential rates.

For further information on ChAFTA, please see the ChAFTA information section on the department’s website under 'free trade agreements in force'.

Reciprocal recognition of food safety with USA of mutual benefit

Man in high-vis vest leaning on a box of avocados.

Australian exporters are in a significantly stronger position as preferred suppliers of safe, high quality food to the United States (US) after last month’s signing of a bilateral Food Safety Recognition Agreement.

Greg Read, head of exports division at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, said the agreement, (only the third the US had undertaken with a trading partner), allowed the United States and Australia to recognise each other’s food safety and regulatory systems as comparable.

“The upshot is that this will greatly simplify Australian exports to the US through greater reliance on our national food control systems that ensure the production of safe food,” Mr Read said.

“This agreement, signed by the United States Food and Drug Administration and the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, will result in fewer in-country audits, with compliance being managed by the exporting country.

Read more about reciprocal recognition of food safety…

“This is good for our businesses, as it positions Australia as a safe source of food supply for the US market.

“That places our exporters in a position of benefit compared with other exporting countries that don’t have this agreement.

“These preferential processes will encourage trade between our two nations, and that can only be good news for our farmers and growing their profits.”

Not all foods are included in this agreement, but most canned foods, seafood, dairy products, fresh fruit and vegetables, fruit juices, confectionary and baked goods are in scope.

“Just as Australia does, the US continues to regulate foods such as meat, egg products, shellfish and dietary supplements and more stringent requirements continue to apply.

“This work has taken five years to finalise, and I thank the Australian and US authorities for their diligence in determining the compatibility of our systems culminating in this agreement” Mr Read concluded.

PASE project updates

An example of Australian premium seafood Woodbridge Smokehouse aimed to widen the export market.

The Package Assisting Small Exporters (PASE) is a grant programme administered by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources aimed at improving market access for small exporters.

To date, it has included 41 projects to assist small Australian exporters in several industries.

Below are a few examples of what PASE grantees have achieved and how the projects help other small exporters.


Read more about Woodbridge Smokehouse…

“Even if there is consumer interest, how do you sell a premium product to an international market like China?”

This was question Woodbridge Smokehouse took on to research on behalf of the Australian seafood export industry. To find the answer, Woodbridge Smokehouse representatives attended trade shows in China, made contacts with industry consumers in Hong Kong, and evaluated the demand of smoked fish in these markets. They shared their insights, including exportation processes with other Australian seafood exporters. Thanks to this project, Australian niche seafood may be on shelves in Hong Kong sooner than you think.

Read more about South Australian Research and Development Group

Food safety and quality are essential elements to thrive in an international market, but current shellfish testing is time consuming and costly. The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) has the solution to improve the way Australian shellfish exports are tested for bio-toxins.

Alison Turnbull, Program Manager at SafeFish, says current Australian shellfish testing takes between three and seven days and costs upwards of $500. SARDI is looking to validate a more rapid testing process, which will save time and money. If successful, Australian exporters will be able to test their products for as little as $30 and within 30 minutes.

Although this screening won’t replace full testing, it could save thousands of dollars for exporters in low-risk situations and help maintain market access.

Industry has already provided very positive testimonials about the test kit at its trial stage.

Read more about Dairy Australia

Exporting can be a hard area to navigate for small businesses without experience in international markets. Dairy Australia has been working on a strategy to teach Australian dairy businesses what is involved in becoming a small exporter, to help producers decide if exporting is a viable option for them. This should increase the chance of success for businesses on their first exports.

Dairy Australia has now launched “Are you Trade Ready?”, a site which brings together information from a variety of sources to support small-to-medium enterprises interested in exporting Australian dairy products. To access the site and find out what you need to know about exporting, visit Are you Trade Ready?.

Read more about Grain Industry Association of Western Australia

The Grain Industry Association of Western Australia (GIWA) have been testing and opening the international market for the human consumption of lupins and lupin-based products. Larissa Taylor, the CEO of GIWA, said that lupins had compelling health and human and nutrition benefits.

GIWA have been working to promote lupins as food through events such as Gulfood 2017 in Dubai. They have also been working on promotional material such as a recipe book for cooking with lupins.


Lupin derived products promoted by the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia.

Read more about Australian Tea Tree Industry Association

The European Union, the United States and Canada produce 80 per cent of all Australian tea tree oil exports, so it is incredibly important for these markets to remain open.

The Australian Tea Tree Industry Association (ATTIA) conducted an independent survey of the cosmetic uses, functions and concentrations of tea tree oil in the European Union.

According to Tony Larkman, CEO of ATTIA, completing the PASE-funded survey and the resulting report has opened opportunities for ATTIA to continue their work. This includes providing data for dermal penetration studies to increase and maintain market access in the European Union for Australian tea tree oil exporters. ATTIA’s work has inspired other researchers to continue writing on the topic and improve chances of increasing exportation.

Read more about Avocados Australia

Avocados Australia is currently working on a project to help exporters deliver premium ripe and ready avocados to Singaporean and Malaysian markets.

John Tyas, CEO of Avocados Australia, said the project had allowed them initially to travel to both countries to gain further understanding of the opportunities and challenges.

Mr. Tyas said the demand for Australian avocados could be increased by delivering a ripe and ready-to-eat product.

“We are working with participants along the supply chain to be able to reliably deliver a premium product to these markets,” he said.

To date, Avocados Australia has provided support to growers through workshops and trade publications. They are also supporting small exporters through an export manual, and self-auditing tools for growers.

Avocados Australia is hoping to launch the Ripe and Ready program in mid-2018.


Australian Avocados being sold in the Singaporean market.

Read more about Grain Trade Australia

Maintaining the reputation of Australian grain is vital for Australian producers when trading domestically and internationally.

Grain Trade Australia (GTA) has made it easier for the grain industry to collate data on grain contaminants by developing a food safety database for industry use.

The database allows grain producers to capture and monitor the levels of contaminants, such as heavy metals, mycotoxins, ergot, pyrrolizidine alkaloids and radiation, in their crops. Users will be able to add to and access their own analysis test data so they can monitor their own crops.

The database will allow the industry to collate data for a variety of business purposes, better inform changes to domestic regulations and requirements and improve Australia’s input into international standards setting.

The information will also be used by the industry to develop targeted sampling and testing regimes for contaminants which will assist producers in reducing the risk of violating importing country contaminant requirements.

The database is available to all industry, including those involved with small exports such as domestic marketers and processors, container exporters and bulk vessel exporters.

More information about the database is available on the GTA website.

If you’re interested in participating and accessing the database, please contact GTA via email Admin or phone (02) 9235 2155.

Australia proudly hosts international plant protection meeting

Attendees to the 2017 PHQuads meeting held recently in Melbourne.

Plant protection was at the top of the agenda when the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources recently hosted the annual Plant Health Quadrilaterals (PHQuads) meeting in Melbourne.

PHQuads is an informal collaboration between the national plant protection organisations from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.

The PHQuads meeting facilitates preparation for the annual meeting of the International Plant Protection Convention (the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures – CPM), and reviews the strategic direction of the Quadrilaterals Collaboration Working Group (QCWG). The QCWG is a technical forum for sharing information and collaborating in areas of common interest, such as diagnostics and treatments to manage biosecurity risks.


Read more about Australia proudly hosts international plant protection meeting…

Important outcomes of the Melbourne meeting included:

  • support for the adoption of draft International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs) and annex proposals
  • a commitment toward a global clean seed trading system and a pilot common phytosanitary system for grain treatments
  • recognition of high priority pest lists and agreement to share prioritisation frameworks
  • continuing support for an electronic phytosanitary certification system (ePhyto)
  • inclusion of sea container cleanliness on the upcoming CPM agenda
  • an agreement to better track and manage biosecurity risk associated with e-commerce
  • support for an International Symposium on Risk Assessment to be held from 26 – 30 June, 2017, in Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  • renewed commitment to QCWG projects developing a plant biosecurity intelligence gathering survey, investigating methyl bromide alternatives and maintaining a regulatory research repository.

The next PHQuads meeting will be hosted by the United States Department of Agriculture in March 2018.

New export markets drive a positive outlook for horticulture and crops

Two farmers standing in a field of canola looking at a laptop.

Australia’s agricultural sector has continued to outperform other sectors of the Australian economy during the second half of 2016 with figures for that period indicating the gross value of Australian farm production will grow $63.8 billion this financial year.

The latest National Accounts figures show the Australian economy enjoyed 2.4 per cent year-on-year growth to the December quarter 2016. Agriculture contributed 0.5 percentage points to this growth and was the single largest contribution among all 19 sectors of the economy.

In 2016-2017, the cropping sector is expected to contribute around $26.8 billion in export earnings, while the horticulture sector is projected to earn around $2.6 billion through exports.

Read more about new export markets drive a positive outlook…

The Australian horticulture sector is also expecting a boost in export markets under the new trade agreements with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, and through further reductions in, or eliminations of import tariffs, under the Free Trade Agreements (FTA) and new and improved technical market access.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ Biosecurity Plant Division has helped broker new trade opportunities for Australia’s horticulture and cropping sectors.

Initiatives financially backed by the federal government’s $4 billion Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper are facilitating safe trade, in particular, by better proving Australia’s plant pest and disease status.

The Division is focused on capturing new premium agricultural markets through the removal of technical trade barriers and the strengthening of biosecurity, surveillance and enhanced capacity for traceability.

Even after an FTA is in place, technical requirements on pests, diseases and food safety standards need to be negotiated.

The commitment by the federal government through the four-year, White Paper investment is enabling the department to address barriers and secure access for specific products.

Some of the latest new and improved access arrangements that have evolved are for chickpeas and split broad beans to Iran and the removal of fumigation protocols for exports of wheat to Iran; nectarines to China; melons, pumpkins and walnuts to Japan; and blood oranges to the Republic of Korea.

It takes financial commitment, diligence and determination by not only governments, both federal and state, but also relevant industry representative groups all along the supply chain, for these new export initiatives to be realised.

Reference: ABARES Agricultural Commodities Outlook, March 2017, Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Science, Canberra.

ABS 2017, Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, December 2016, cat. no. 5206.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.

Tools for Trade

Man holding two bottles of vegetable oil standing in front of supermarket shelf.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources maintains databases of information for the import and export products from Australia. These databases are the Manual of Importing Country Requirements (MICoR) and the Biosecurity Import Conditions System (BICON).

MICoR is the key resource for exporters seeking information on product requirements of importing countries whilst BICON provides importers with information on the requirements to bring products into Australia.

If you want to keep informed about trading partner regulatory developments as they are notified, the department recommends you subscribe to ePing.

ePing is a user-friendly system that allows you to register for daily alerts on changes to sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) requirements. The system allows you to search by country and commodity so you can tailor your alerts to meet your needs.

In the event that the databases do not answer all of your questions, departmental staff will be happy to assist you. You can contact the department on 1800 900 090 or via general enquiries.

Grants to help you expand our ag-trade horizons

Woman lifting crate of vegetables out of back of delivery van.

Partnerships are crucial when it comes to growing our farm exports.

Do you have an idea that could help unlock new international trade opportunities for Australian farmers through better relationships?

An agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation grant could provide the key!

Grants ranging from $55000 to $1.65 million are now available for projects and ideas that will grow our ag-exports through cooperation and stronger relationships.

Visit Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation programme to find out more.




Austrade coordinates events and exhibitions, like Australia Week in China (AWIC), around the world, to support the promotion of Australian food and agriculture. Find out about events in your export markets through Austrade's event search.

Fine Food Australia, 11 – 14 September 2017

Fine Food Australia is the country’s leading trade exhibition for the food service, hospitality and retail industries. The event presents new and innovative products from around Australia, and from over 45 countries internationally, as well as live demonstrations, masterclasses and industry recognised competitions. The annual show attracts over 1000 exhibitors from Australia and the world, and alternates between Sydney and Melbourne each September.

2017 will see Fine Food Australia return to Sydney from 11-14 September at the International Convention Centre Sydney, Darling Harbour.

Don’t miss your chance to visit the largest trade show in the southern hemisphere.

More information is available from

Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair, 9 – 11 November 2017

More than 1,000 international exhibitors are expected to join the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair in 2017, taking advantage of the show’s comprehensive experience in the entire drinks trade. It provides the exhibitors with golden opportunities to strengthen existing relationships and build new connections.

More information is available from Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair

WOP Dubai 2017, 5 – 7 December 2017

WOP Dubai provides a perfect platform to network, exchange ideas and do business. The WOP Dubai Exhibition, which specializes in fruit and vegetables, is held under one roof, offering numerous possibilities to its stakeholders.

All companies from across the entire fresh produce sector – from global players to small and medium-sized companies and organisations from all over the world – will again be present in Dubai. The event features a large display of products related to the service of fresh produce including:

  • fresh fruit and vegetables
  • fresh product safety
  • fresh product services
  • fresh product trading
  • technical equipment
  • transport and logistics

VENUE: Dubai World Trade Centre

More information is available from WOP Dubai 05 - 07 December, 2017

Events taken through the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Selling your goods to China: Overview

China is Australia's largest trading partner, buying almost a third of all Australian exports. With a population of 1.4 billion people, and a rapidly growing middle class, the demand for Australian goods and services has never been higher. China presents enormous opportunities for Australian businesses, so find out what it can do for yours.

This workshop will take you through the key trends and opportunities in China, and give you the information you need to export under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).

  • 31 May 2017 Dandenong
  • 22 June 2017 Shepparton
  • 31 August 2017 Melbourne
  • 26 September 2017 Bendigo
  • 19 October 2017 Dandenong

For more information on how to apply/register, see the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry brochure

Selling your goods to Japan and Korea: Overview

Two of Australia's leading trade partners – Japan and Korea – account for over 10 per cent of our exports. Trade agreements with these countries provide Australian businesses with preferential access to two markets of almost 180 million people.

The Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) and the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) offer substantial benefits to Australian businesses.

This workshop will take you through the key trends and opportunities in these markets, and give you the information you need to start exporting your goods under JAEPA and KAFTA.

  • 25 July 2017 Dandenong
  • 10 October 2017 Geelong

For more information on how to apply/register, see the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry brochure


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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