Japan grants access to Australian melons, pumpkins
Australian melon and pumpkin growers will now have a new market opportunity after Japan opened up access for the two crops.
Market access was granted following recent bilateral discussions between the two countries, which also reopened access for Australian live cattle exports, and follows a recent free trade agreement that led to the elimination of tariffs on Australian pumpkins exported to Japan.
The Australian vegetable industry has welcomed the news, which means pumpkins will be able to be exported to Japan immediately.
"This is fantastic news for export-ready pumpkin growers throughout Australia who are now in a much stronger position to expand their growing operations to meet increasing demand in Japan for high quality vegetable produce,” said Ausveg national manager for export development, Michael Coote.
“Japan is one of Australia’s largest export markets for horticultural produce, with total vegetable exports worth AUD$44 million in 2015-16, up five per cent on the previous year.
"It is a potentially lucrative export market for Australian pumpkin growers as it imports more than 100,000 [metric] tonnes of pumpkins from around the world each year.”
He said the agreement could help Australian vegetable growers build into a high-value export market in a region that was increasingly calling for high quality Australian produce.
"AUSVEG organised a successful trade mission to Japan earlier this year, where Australian vegetable growers were able to display their high quality produce to key buyers and develop trade relationships," he said.
"A number of these buyers have also travelled to Australia to see our vegetable growing operations in action.
"The challenge now is for Australian growers to investigate the pumpkin varieties that are popular in Japan, so that they can grow the varieties that are in high demand with Japanese consumers and maximise their ability to sell their produce into this market."
In a release, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the trade deal opened a key growth market for Australian rockmelon (cantaloupe), watermelon and honeydew melon growers.
“Through the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA), this Government has already achieved elimination of the three per cent tariff on pumpkins and six per cent tariff on watermelons into Japan," Joyce said.
"And the six per cent tariff on melons into Japan is set to follow, falling to zero on 1 April 2019.
"But those opportunities only exist on paper without agreement on the technical market access requirements for exports—the biosecurity processes that allow us to actually ship this produce to Japan."
The agreement follows cuts in tariffs for asparagus, macadamias and mangoes in January, 2015, which helped mango exports to Japan to grow 29% in the 12 months to 2016, macadamia exports by 28% and asparagus by 23%.
Leading horticulture exporter Hannay Douglas Pty Ltd managing director Alastair Scott said growers across Australia would benefit with major producers in nearly every state.
"The Coalition has delivered a significant achievement in negotiating this latest technical market access deal with Japan, a country we have close proximity to," Scott said.
"The Government is delivering new and exciting business opportunities for hundreds of Australian growers and exporters.
“Not only is Japan a key export market and a valued trade partner, but given our proximity to Japan, and the strength of our melon and pumpkin growers, we can supply Japan top produce all year round.”
With nearly 380 rockmelon, watermelon and honeydew melon growers and more than 800 pumpkin growers across the nation, Australia grows more than 260,000 metric tons (MT) of melons and over 110,000MT of pumpkins each year.