Accessing international markets
Victoria is Australia’s largest exporter of food and fibre products and accounts for 27 percent of the country’s total exports. In 2017-18, Victoria’s total food and fibre exports were valued at $14.1 billion.
With a target to grow exports to $20 billion per year by 2030, the ability to gain access to new markets and maintain and improve access conditions to existing markets is crucial for the ongoing viability and growth of Victoria’s food and fibre sector.
Market access is achieved when permission is gained from an overseas government to export goods to them. There are several factors that need to be considered before Victorian agricultural goods can be exported to overseas markets.
Australian businesses enjoy equal or better access to many of the worlds fastest growing economies compared to our competitors. This is due to our expansive network of Free Trade Agreements, clean green reputation, proximity to Asian markets and for Victoria in particular, favourable climate and growing conditions.
Trade agreements are international treaties that reduce barriers to trade and investment. Australia has established trade agreements with numerous trading partners and has several new agreements under negotiation. For agriculture, trade agreements generally outline arrangements relating to tariffs and non-tariff measures. However, having a trade agreement in place does not necessarily mean technical market access is granted. This is usually sought through a separate process.
Technical Market Access
The process for seeking technical market access is based on scientific evidence and determines the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures required to assure the importing country that Australia’s food and fibre products are safe for import. Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures are applied by importing countries to protect human, animal or plant life from exotic diseases, contaminants or pests.
This can be a straight forward or protracted process. The complexity reflects the nature and level of the food safety or biosecurity risk the importing country might be exposed to and whether regulatory measures are available to address that risk.
Accessing the Market
Having trade agreements and access to markets can enhance trade and investment opportunities however, these alone do not generate or grow exports. Growth can only occur if commercial parties decide to take advantage of the opportunities to supply the market. To access the market, commercially companies may need to meet particular standards such as quality and packaging or sustainability, organic or Halal which are important to that market.