Improving agricultural export legislation

Agriculture, fisheries and forestry exports are an economic powerhouse for Australia. Strengthening the competitiveness and productivity of Australia's agriculture sector is a key commitment of the Morrison McCormack Government.

Improved legislative framework

The Australian Government is improving Australia’s agricultural export legislation. This is one of the initiatives being implemented to modernise the systems which support the export of Australian agricultural goods.

Australia’s agricultural export legislation underpins our reputation as a supplier of safe and reliable food and other products. It also assures our trading partners that Australian exports meet their requirements.

The new export legislation will commence on 28 March 2021 and consists of the:

  • Export Control Act 2020 (the Act) as the central pillar of the new legislative framework
  • Export Control Rules 2020 (the Rules) which are legislative instruments setting out the operational requirements for exporting specific goods from Australia.

The new legislation will consolidate and streamline existing export-related requirements. It will continue to ensure:

  • exported goods meet importing country requirements
  • compliance with government and relevant industry standards
  • traceability through the exports supply chain where required
  • the integrity of goods and the accuracy of applied trade descriptions and official marks.

The benefits of the new legislation include:

  • It will be more relevant, responsive and efficient for exporters, farmers and other primary producers.
  • It will continue to provide strong regulation, while removing duplication and ensuring consistency across commodities where possible.

Export Control Rules 2020

The Rules outline the operational requirements agricultural exporters must meet to export specific commodities from Australia. They are based on the current orders and regulations for various commodities under the Export Control Act 1982 and Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997. Once finalised, the Rules will replace the current legislation.

The Rules will be legislative instruments under the Export Control Act 2020. They will be made by the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, and they will be subject to parliamentary checks and balances, in line with the current Orders.

Exposure Draft Export Control Rules 2020

The department is consulting international trading partners and domestic stakeholders on the Exposure Draft Export Control Rules 2020 (the draft Rules). Consultation on the 12 draft Rules will occur in 3 tranches.

These consultations meet Australia’s obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. This will provide trading partners with an opportunity to comment on the draft Rules, and give domestic stakeholders another opportunity to provide feedback.

Consultation on the draft Rules is critical to ensuring that Australia’s agricultural export legislation is clear and fit for purpose – supporting growth and innovation, while maintaining the standards trading partners expect.

You can provide feedback on the draft Rules that are open for consultation via links to the department’s Have Your Say pages.

Tranche 1 – Consultations on 7 draft Rules closed on 5 November 2020. You can find out more about these draft Rules and the outcomes of consultations via links to the department’s Have Your Say pages:

Tranche 2 – Consultations on 3 draft Rules in tranche 2 (animals, rabbit and ratite and wild game) are open until 8 January 2021. You can provide feedback on these Rules via links to the department’s HYS pages:

Tranche 3 – Consultations on 2 draft the draft Rules in tranche 3 (wood and miscellaneous) will open later this year with details released at that time.

Previous consultation

Details of our previous consultations with stakeholders, critical to shaping Australia’s new agricultural export legislation are available via these links:

Overview of the new legislative framework

Agricultural exports are currently regulated by over 20 Acts and 40 pieces of delegated legislation. The Act consolidates and streamlines existing export-related requirements. The new legislative framework will include:

The improved legislative framework will replace the Export Control Act 1982, export-related provisions in the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997 and legislative instruments, such as orders and regulations.

As some of these legislative instruments were due to ‘sunset’ (cease to be law) on 1 April 2020, the Attorney-General approved a deferral of the sunsetting of 19 legislative instruments under the Export Control Act 1982 and the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997 until 1 April 2021.

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Last reviewed: 12 November 2020