Victoria is Australia’s largest exporter of food and fibre products and accounts for 27 per cent of the country’s total exports.

In 2018–19, Victoria’s total food and fibre exports were valued at $14.2 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.

Australian businesses enjoy equal or better access to many of the world’s fastest growing economies compared to our competitors.

This is due to our:

  • expansive network of Free Trade Agreements
  • reputation for safe, fresh, high-quality produce
  • proximity to Asian markets
  • and for Victoria in particular favourable climate and growing conditions.

International demand for premium quality and safe foods is being driven by a fast-growing global population, expanding middle class and changing diets.

To grow and maintain access to international markets, the Victorian agriculture, food and fibre sector must be ready to meet the demands of rapidly changing global markets.

What is market access?

Market access refers to the ability of a company or country to buy and sell goods and services across international borders. Global markets change rapidly. To grow and maintain access to markets, the Victorian agriculture, food and fibre industries must be dynamic and ready to meet demands.

How to find market access information

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 these markets. To achieve access, companies may need to meet particular standards such as quality and packaging, sustainability, organic or Halal requirements important to those markets.

With the right information, exporting can have multiple benefits. The whole process can be simplified by understanding your own business goals, intended consumers, potential competitors and importing country requirements. Global Victoria and Austrade can provide advice on getting ready to export.

Free trade agreements (FTAs)

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.

Having a trade agreement in place does not necessarily mean market access is granted. Information on the status of FTAs, how exporters can take advantage of existing FTAs, including tariff cuts and the FTA online platform is provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Tariffs

A tariff is a tax or duty to be paid on a particular class of import or export. Tariffs vary depending on the product type and market. Rates are constantly revised and are subject to change without notice. It is therefore important to reconfirm tariffs before you start exporting and review them regularly.

Austrade provide up to date information on tariff and regulations for a range of markets.

Non-tariff barriers

Non-tariff barriers are trade barriers that restrict the import or export of goods through means other than tax or duties. They may include trade agreements, quotas, trade restrictions, licensing and marketing regulations.

Technical barriers to trade

The Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment) is governed by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It addresses procedures for testing and certifying conformity to regulations and standards relevant to international trade, including standards for food packaging and labelling, animal welfare, agriculture and veterinary chemicals, fisheries and forestry. Australian Government Agencies develop domestic policies, such as food labelling laws, which are covered by the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement. The WTO’s Technical Barriers to Trade Gateway provides relevant information and links.

Labelling, product marks and marketing rules

Your product must comply with the labelling, packaging, product marks and marketing rules of the required market. Please check the specific requirements of your destination market prior to export.

All prepacked food requires a food label that displays certain mandatory information. All food is subject to general food labelling requirements. Labelling must be accurate and not misleading. Certain foods are controlled by product specific regulations. These include:

  • bread and flour
  • foods containing genetic modification (GM)
  • cocoa and chocolate products
  • soluble coffee
  • milk products
  • honey
  • fruit juices and nectars
  • infant formula
  • jams and marmalade
  • meat products – sausages, burgers and pies
  • fish
  • natural mineral waters
  • spreadable fats
  • sugars
  • irradiated food

While specific requirements vary between markets, general requirements for labelling may include the name of the food, a list of ingredients, allergen information, quantitative declaration of ingredients, net quantity, storage conditions, name and address of manufacturer, country of origin or place of provenance, preparation instructions and a nutritional declaration.

Insurance and other documentation

It is a good idea to have insurance against the three major risks associated with exporting:

  • goods that get lost or damaged
  • when a buyer can't or won't pay
  • when a seller is unable to fulfil the terms of a contract.

The exact type of insurance will vary between markets and between insurers. Some useful information on insurance requirements, as well as other common documentation requirements, is provided by Global Victoria.

Import licences and certificates

An import licence or certificate is an official document issued by a nation’s government which authorises particular goods and services to be imported into its territory. Examples of goods that are controlled by import licences or certificates include plant and animal products, food, textiles, art, technology and medicines. It is necessary to check the import licence and certificate requirements for your product prior to export.

Food safety for exports

Sanitary and phytosanitary measures are applied by importing countries to protect human, animal or plant life from exotic diseases, contaminants or pests. The standards for sanitary and phytosanitary safety are set out by the WTO. The Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement, information for understanding the rules and an e-learning course are provided by the WTO.

Trade alerts and disputes

If a member of the WTO is not complying with its trade obligations, a dispute resolution process is provided by the WTO. Since 1995, over 350 dispute rulings have been issued by the WTO. For example, Australia has successfully challenged Korean and United States meat import restrictions. Information on dispute resolution and settlement is provided at the WTO website.

References

Australian Trade and Investment Commission [AUSTRADE] (2022) Export Markets - Countries - Information for Australian exporters - Austrade, accessed 13 January 2022

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment [DAWE] (2021) Technical Barriers to Trade, accessed 13 January 2022

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2022) About free trade agreements (FTAs), accessed 17 January 2022

Global Vic (2022) Home - Global Victoria, accessed 17 January 2022

World Trade Organization [WTO] (2022) World Trade Organization, accessed 13 January 2022

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