AUSTRALIA continues to build on its free trade credentials, with several recent initiatives building on the Chinese, South Korean and Japanese deals it has inked in recent years.
Negotiations on an Australia-European Union Free Trade Agreement have been set in motion.
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud held talks about improving trade in food and fibre with EU Trade Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström in Canberra last week.
“It was great to sit down with the Commissioner to discuss how an FTA would create opportunities for agriculture in Australia and the EU,” Mr Littleproud said.
“The EU is already our fourth largest agricultural export destination and we are confident this future FTA will increase the value of the EU market for our farmers.
“More high quality Australian produce on EU dinner tables is a win for EU consumers and a win for our farmers, our rural and regional communities and our nation.”
In 2016-17, Australia’s top exports to the EU were canola at $1.9 billion, wine at $566 million, wool at $333m, beef and veal at $229m and nuts at $226m.
Reduced tariffs improve export opportunities for farmers by making it easier for them to access key markets. FTAs also give Australian farmers an advantage over competing countries who do not have FTAs.
Meanwhile, an alliance of Australia’s meat, wine, dairy and horticulture industries will embark on a mission to reinforce the nation’s position as a premium food source for high-end Chinese consumers.
The Premium Australian Food and Wine Collaboration is a new cross-industry partnership comprising Dairy Australia, Meat & Livestock Australia; Horticulture Innovation Australia and Wine Australia, in co-operation with Austrade.
It is focussed on growing agricultural trade with Australia’s major food export partner.
A Premium Australian Food and Wine Seminar in Shanghai on June 15 will showcase the best produce from Australian farms to leading figures from across China’s food industry.
Australian chef Tim Hollands, whose creative culinary skills have featured at events across Asia and the Middle East, will highlight the finest produce from Australian farms and educate seminar participants on the latest trends in Australian food production and cooking.
The nation’s produce will also star at a VIP dinner, hosted by the collaborating Rural Research and Development Corporation partners.
Australian Ambassador to China Jan Adams will be the guest of honour.
National Farmers Federation chief executive officer Tony Mahar, who will address seminar participants, said the mission was part of a long-term commitment to developing markets in China.
“When it comes to taking the highest quality foods from Australian farms to dinner plates all around the world, Australian agriculture has a great story to tell,” Mr Mahar said.
“Australia is already positioned at the premium end of the market for fresh produce in China and, by bringing together the red meat, dairy, wine and horticulture sectors, we can consolidate that position and highlight the strengths of Australian agriculture right across the value chain.”
Each year, exports from the four agricultural sectors to Greater China contribute $6.5 billion to Australia’s economy.
p Dairy $2.76b
p Wine $1.04b
p Red meat and livestock $2.05b
p Horticulture $633.8m
Austrade Trade Commissioner in Shanghai Karen Surmon said the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement gave greater confidence to Australian producers exporting premium food and beverage products, and improved choice for discerning Chinese consumers and importers.
“Significant developments in China’s logistics and warehousing, and its e-commerce leadership have also facilitated greater access to Chinese market by Australian exporters,” Ms Surmon said.