Australia gains Chinese cherry market access

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Australia gains Chinese cherry market access

Australian cherries are set to be shipped directly to China for the first time in 2012-13, following draft approval for Tasmanian exporters from Chinese authorities.

The Chinese Agency of General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) has given draft approval to Australia's Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), which is subject to signing in early December.

In a release, Cherry Growers Australia (CGA) said it was hoped the states of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia would also gain access following a technical meeting in Beijing in March-April 2013, where issues relating to treatments will be finalized.

CGA national president Andrew Smith hailed the approval as a "fantastic step forward" for the industry to gain access to such a large market.

"We have been able to export cherries for the past 20 years into Hong Kong as there has been no protocol for the Special Administrative Area but for the rest of People's Republic of China we needed to negotiate a biosecurity protocol," he said.

"This will really help set the industry on a new course in line with its Export Roadmap 2012 to 2017 to lift the exports of Australian cherries from 20% per season (about 2,000 metric tons (MT) to about 20 countries globally) to 50% per season by 2017 (about 6,000MT).

"This is our industry doing its bit in the new era of Australia in the Asian Century as we will also target other new Asian markets, as well as continuing to already supply the many we do now."

He said as the Australian season only lasted 100 days, growers needed to make every opportunity a winner both in exports and in the domestic market.

"We get great feedback that Australian cherries are of the highest quality, have really strong appeal to consumers across Asia and command great prices."

CGA CEO Simon Boughey said Australia had a strong commercial advantage in Asia as it was able to air freight cherries there in two to three days from harvest.

"If using sea freight it will take approximately 14-16 days to arrive which is still far quicker than our main competitor Chile whose product takes six weeks by sea," he said.

"Our growers will be targeting the top end of the market too in the peak counter-seasonal period from early December to Chinese New Year that is celebrated across a number of countries in Asia each season."

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