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Aust food,beverage industry welcomes Coalition trade policy

14 November, 2007

The Australian food industry has welcomed the Coalition’s announcement that it would commit $45.5 million to programs and activities aimed at stimulating further export growth and strengthening the Australian economy.

Australian Food and Grocery Council Chief Executive Dick Wells said that as Australia competes in a global market, the creation of new export opportunities remains a key priority for the food and beverage sector.

“The industry needs an aggressive approach to market development by government.

“The Coalition Trade Policy recognises the importance of the food and beverage trade by creating a $10 million Food and Beverage Exports Program that targets key markets of China, USA, UK, India and Singapore,” he said.

Wells said that the AFGC was looking forward to building on the work already undertaken by the National Food Industry Strategy (NFIS) to provide a platform for improved coordination, capacity-building and enhanced market access, to help Australian businesses to optimise profitability, investment and employment.

“Australia requires a strategy that will grow our trade in food products through a coordinated approach, building sustainable markets and industry’s capacity to service those markets.

“This industry needs and would make good use of the new programs funded under this policy, including an Export Partnerships Fund and Expanding Australian Food and Beverage Exports program.”

Wells said that the food and beverage sector is of critical importance to the Australian economy, particularly in regional Australia.

The processed food and beverage sector is Australia’s largest manufacturing industry, with sales and service income of $71.5 billion and employing around 200,000 Australians.

The sector is a major contributor to Australia’s export performance.

Over the last decade, the food industry has worked with federal and state governments to increase the level of food exports to more than $23 billion in 2005-06 from $17 billion in 1996-97. Key sectors driving this growth include the meat, dairy and beverage products.

“We are pleased that the Coalition has remained committed to the development of the food and beverage industry and look forward to ongoing collaboration to develop key growth markets such as China and India,” Wells said.

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