WHILE the China free trade agreement (FTA) is being celebrated across the Australian agricultural sector, the cropping industry must realise there is more to trade access than the removal of tariffs, according to the manager of the Grains Industry Market Access Forum (GIMAF).
Tony Russell says that while the FTA is welcome news for Aussie grain producers, there were still a range of technical market access barriers to overcome.
“One point that has been missed in a lot of the commentary is that there still remain a number of constraints to trade in China,” he said.
“For instance, you see the removal of a 7 per cent tariff on pulses and think that’s great, but the issue is that we don’t export pulses to China because we don’t have phyto-sanitary approval for most pulse crops.”
And he said gaining quarantine approval could be a tricky process.
“We’ve been working hard on getting these phyto-sanitary requirements ticked off and it is a slow process."
“Until these things are resolved, then the FTA won’t mean that much.”
Mr Russell said non tariff barriers had proved to a stumbling block to other grain exports, such as canola.
China refused to accept Australian canola for some years due to concerns about blackleg, until lifting the ban last year, opening up a large market for Australian canola.
However, Mr Russell said ongoing work was required to keep Chinese officials happy and it would be a similar story for other products.
“At present, they are worried about the levels of trash in Australian canola exports, saying that the risk of blackleg is higher in loads with higher levels of trash, which is quite correct.
“We need to work hard to lower these levels to keep the market open.”
Mr Russell said an important part of the FTA was the inclusion of a review clause to look at non-tariff constraints.
“This will give officials from both countries a chance to talk about non-tariff market access issues.”