Australian Government pledges $51.3m for ag counsellors to speed access to key export markets

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In its latest Budget, the federal government pledged $51.3 million in funding to help grow Australia’s agricultural exports by supporting stronger representation in key markets across the EU, Latin America and Asia.

The new funding package will enable the extension of five existing agricultural counsellor positions, in Vietnam, Malaysia, the Middle East, China and Thailand, and the creation of six new ag-counsellor positions in key emerging export markets, said Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud on announcing the funding package.

“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,” he said.

“Counsellors [have] 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 farmgate and drives real wealth [to] our regions.

“As well as the counsellors themselves, we’re ... funding technical work to support market access requests and constantly improve food safety.

“These investments help 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,” Minister Littleproud said.

Our agricultural counsellors in export markets work to:

  • remove existing trade barriers to importing Australian food, beverage and agricultural products and services; and
  • help create and develop export protocol agreements for specific fruits, vegetables and other commodities.

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