CHANGES to the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) system will be pushed by Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce after his visit last week to the Middle East.
"Saudi Arabia still doesn't agree with the extent that the ESCAS system goes to," Mr Joyce told Fairfax after returning Wednesday from a flying visit to the Arab nation and Bahrain.
"They say it's an intrusion on their sovereignty, and we had discussions about how we deal with that issue," hew said.
"I don't want to say that we're going to get rid of ESCAS, but we have to try and work out whether we can get something to work in a form equivalent to ESCAS, but not so that it intrudes on another nation's sovereignty.
"We recognise where our limits are when it comes to Saudi Arabia."
There are significant opportunities for increased traffic of live sheep if protocols can be arranged to mutual satisfaction, Mr Joyce believes.
"They recognise our product is superior. They have other avenues for sourcing sheep in North Africa, but the Australian product is better and more reliable."
Revising ESCAS will also be instrumental to rebooting free trade discussions with the Gulf States.
The Middle East has for decades been a major market for Australian produce, especially wheat and sheep. Iraq and Yemen are among the top 10 buyers of Australian wheat, each accounting for about 7 per cent of exports.
With a fast-growing population and GDP growth to match, Mr Joyce thinks there are opportunities in the region that are being overlooked in the push towards Asia.
"It's great that we're all going to Asia, but some of our biggest markets are in the Middle East, especially in Saudi Arabia."
"All messages are read clearly, and if they see everyone charging over to Asia and forgetting about the Middle East, that would be a disaster."
Meanwhile, the Ukraine crisis is causing unease in the Middle East and North African (MENA) States, which are highly dependent on Black Sea grain.
In a briefing for Future Directions International, Natazsa Bariacto, Research Assistant with the Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme, wrote that sustained conflict in Ukraine increases the likelihood of Ukrainian farmers holding onto their harvests to hedge against the embattled country’s devaluing currency.
About 60 per cent of the MENA States' grain is imported, a significant proportion of it from the Black Sea region.
Ms Bariacto wrote that if the flow of grain from Ukraine is interrupted, increasing grain prices could lead to social unrest. For MENA's poor, even a small price rise can push staple foods beyond affordability.
High food prices have repeatedly been implicated in outbreaks of social unrest throughout the Middle East and Africa.
Ms Bariacto said other grain-exporting nations like Australia, the United States and Brazil might attempt to fill the shortfall left by Ukraine.
"Diversifying trading partners is a viable long-term solution (for the MENA States)," she said, but "in the short-term, there is little that can be done to buffer the region against food insecurity resulting from the Ukraine conflict."