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Government industry partnership to unlock Australia's agrifood exports

16 February, 2017

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) and the Australian Government recently formed a key partnership to help tackle non-tariff barriers and boost Australian food and agribusiness exports.

The AFGC, with support from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, will undertake key projects to identify and address technical and regulatory barriers to trade which are impeding agrifood companies' ability to take advantage of key trade deals.

AFGC CEO, Gary Dawson said the strong government support reflected the priority being placed on addressing non-tariff barriers to trade.

"Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Trade Minister Steve Ciobo and Assistant Trade Minister Keith Pitt have acknowledged the importance of this issue and are backing industry efforts to find solutions.

"With growing global demand for safe, high quality food, particularly in Asia, it is important that we work with our trading partners to provide confidence in Australia's food safety regulatory systems."

"There is no doubt all the signs are there for strong export growth as Australian food and beverage exports increased by 10.7% to $26 billion in 2015-16, with the sector running a trade surplus of $9.1 billion.

"Yet Australian agrifood exporters face increasing costs and time for customs and registration processes in many export markets, which also hurt foreign consumers through delays and increased product costs.

"A 2015 AFGC has found that 65% of key agrifood organisations considered that technical and regulatory barriers to trade had either a significant impact on their export performance or blocked exports completely.

"Hardly a day goes by without companies experiencing delays, rejections, uncertainty and extra costs due to regulatory barriers, inconsistent application of import rules between different ports and lengthy, uncertain processes to register products and export facilities.

"This partnership will firstly develop collateral explaining Australia's credentials as a reliable source of high quality and safe food and agricultural products and demonstrate to three major trading partners how Australia's food safety regulatory system works, from the perspective of the regulatory approach applied in each of those markets.

"With the Government's support and preparedness to collaborate across all relevant departments, AFGC will also assist Australian agrifood exporters in understanding the different pathways into the Chinese market, including free-trade zones, e-commerce and traditional routes and how to reduce the time and increase the success of product registration and clearance," said Dawson.

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