Australia: FTAs deliver big benefits for horticultural exports, says minister

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Australia: FTAs deliver big benefits for horticultural exports, says minister

An Australian minister has said free trade deals negotiated with some key Asian countries like China, Japan and South Korea have helped the horticulture industry deliver 'strong results' for the economy. 

Speaking in Canberra, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Anne Ruston said horticulture exports reached record levels of AUD2.7 billion in 2015-16 and are forecast to continue to increase to AUD3.3 billion in 2021-22.

“Record horticulture exports are supported by new and improved market access that has seen reductions to tariffs on a number of key horticulture products—increasing the competitiveness of Australian exports,” Minister Ruston said.

“Our horticulture and wine sectors are already showing the benefits of the free-trade deals this government has secured with China, Japan and Korea."

Describing the results as 'exciting', she said she expected to see growing opportunities for the sectors as global demand for quality, clean and premium produce increases and the government maintains its focus on negotiating further trade deals and technical market access improvements.

“However, market access is only one piece of the picture when it comes to realising the big opportunities presented by increasing global demand for agrifood products," she said.

“While our reputation as a reliable supplier of high-quality, safe agricultural exports, and the favourable market access conditions secured by the government will help give our exports an edge, we will nonetheless face stiff competition in global markets."

She went onto explain it would therefore be important to take innovative approaches to production and marketing "to help position these industries to capitalize on opportunities in markets at home and abroad."

“Innovation will be an important part of the equation when it comes to ensuring our farm businesses can capture opportunities and remain competitive in global markets," she said.

“That is why this government is focused on supporting farm businesses to become more productive and profitable, including by fostering innovation and research and development.

“This government has further strengthened our world-class rural R&D system by delivering on an election commitment to increase rural R&D funding, through the $180.5 million Rural R&D for Profit Programme. This programme is on top of around $700 million the Australian Government already invests in rural R&D each year.”

Ruston said the gross value of horticultural production was forecast to grow from AUD9.5 billion in 2016–17 to almost AUD10 billion in 2021–22.


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