Australian agriculture will have a stronger representation from the UK to Latin America, and across key markets in Asia through a $51.3 million package announced in the Budget.
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud said the funding would extend five agricultural counsellor positions in Vietnam, Malaysia, the Middle East, China and Thailand and fund six new positions in key emerging export markets.
“Free trade agreements can reduce tariffs, but we need market access agreements for each specific commodity before our farmers can export their produce there,” Minister Littleproud said.
“Agricultural counsellors help give us market access agreements by advocating the science for each commodity with each relevant commodity. A good example is how ag counsellors helped get better access for our chickpeas to Iran and Pakistan through improved ways of treating the legumes with fungicide.
“The six new agricultural counsellors will be strategically positioned where we are negotiating or have recently concluded free trade agreements including Europe, the UK, Latin America and key markets in Asia.
“In the agriculture portfolio since 1 January 2016, we have had 72 key market access gains or restorations, along with 63 key market access improvements or actions to maintain market access.
“Counsellors helped win us new market access into China for several commodities in the past few years – nectarines in 2016 and peaches, plums and apricots in 2017. Ag counsellors also helped us win agreement for more practical treatment for citrus, table grapes, and cherries going into China, which can reduce costs and help make our farmers more money.
“Industry estimates these market access gains in China and improved treatment schedules will be worth more than $200 million annually. This improves profit at the farm gate and drives real wealth our regions.
“As well as the counsellors themselves, we’re also funding technical work to support market access requests and constantly improve food safety.
“These investments helps us capitalise on the new free trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP-11), the Pacific Alliance Free Trade Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
“The Budget has delivered a further $2.9 million over four years to extend funding for the Indonesia-Australia Red Meat and Cattle Partnership.
“This partnership funds mutually beneficial projects for our red meat and cattle sectors, such as industry engagement and the exchange of technical expertise.
“The partnership has been a successful platform for Australia to engage with Indonesia on trade and policy matters, and strengthen business and industry linkages for a valuable trade to Australia.
“Through the 2018-19 Budget we are leveraging our investment in the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper and making sure Australian producers achieve a premium price for their premium produce.”
Source: Australian Government