The Federal Government says livestock exporters stand to save up to 30 percent in government charges under changes introduced today which allow them to apply for ‘approved arrangement’ status for export consignments.
The Australian Livestock Exporter’s Council has welcomed the move, but has also warned against suggestions will lead to “massive cost savings” for industry (more on ALEC’s position below).
From today livestock exporters can now apply for an approved arrangement to reduce red tape and streamline paperwork associated with the preparation of animals on Australian shores prior to export.
“The initiative will remove the need for exporters to repeatedly submit the same paperwork for each consignment, reduce the time to export and simplify processes for exporters,” Federal agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce said.
Mr Joyce said the introduction of approved arrangements will reduce government charges and make Australia’s livestock export industry more competitive, without any deterioration in Australia’s world-leading animal welfare standards.
Under approved arrangements, exporters must still meet all Australian Government requirements for the export certification of livestock, including the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System, Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock and the requirements of importing countries. Animals will still be inspected by the department’s veterinary officers before each shipment.
Approved arrangements are already in place for other major agricultural commodity exports such as meat and dairy.
Exporters must submit their proposed arrangement to the department for assessment and approval.
It will be compulsory for exporters to have an approved arrangement to export livestock from 1 January 2017.
Exemptions for very small exporters are available. More information is available on the department’s website: agriculture.gov.au/export/controlled-goods/live-animals/livestock/information-exporters-industry/approved-arrangements.
ALEC CEO Alison Penfold said the move to systems approvals better reflects the consistent nature of export consignments, but cautioned against suggestions of massive cost savings for industry.
“An Approved Arrangements sets out the procedures an exporter will follow to ensure the Australian Government requirements for the certification of livestock for export are met. This includes meeting the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL – standards for the welfare of livestock from on-farm to on-board) and importing country requirements,” Ms Penfold said.
“The Government will maintain control and oversight over exporters but the process will be more efficient and better aligned to the regularity of the export process and by way of auditing and a performance management framework. For exporters this means less avoidable delays due to removal of repetitive tasks and paperwork hold ups, mainly in Canberra.
“This is a reform that has been on our industry’s regulatory agenda for a long time, so we welcome today’s announcement.”
Nonetheless, Ms Penfold said that industry would monitor the implementation with caution. She said the extent of savings to eventuate from the reform remained unclear and that there were doubts about the accuracy of predictions of a 30 per cent fall in government charges.
“Livestock exporters would hope to enjoy a reduction in government charges on that scale, but the jury is out on whether it will ever materialise across the board,” Ms Penfold said.
“We were pushed into negotiating a new framework for fees and charges at the same time as working through arrangements for the implementation of Approved Arrangements.
“In our view, any figures on reductions in government charges are still only estimates which, as we already know from modelling, are not fairly distributed across all exporters, markets or species. In addition, there are still fundamental problems with the framework, particularly around the contribution to corporate overheads and an absence of departmental productivity improvements.
“The only way through this is for the Minister to agree to a full independent review of the fees and charges framework for live animal exports which he has agreed to for the meat and grains sectors.
“We support Minister Joyce’s previously stated commitment to make sure government fees and charges are fair, equitable, transparent and relative to the services being provided,” Ms Penfold said.
“We agree with Minister Joyce that while it’s reasonable that industry pay for the services we receive, it’s also reasonable for industry to expect that the costs being recovered are legitimate costs for industry to bear, and not costs reasonably borne by government.
“As Minister Joyce has said, a fairer and more transparent system is important because it gives
Australian exporters more confidence about the way the government recovers the cost of export, and better visibility of how costs are calculated and passed on.”
A recent economic analysis undertaken by consulting firm EY and funded by LiveCorp to inform industry submissions to the Government’s Productivity Commission into the Regulation of Agriculture found that ESCAS costs alone create an additional $22.3 million per annum in regulatory burden on exporters.
Source: DoA, ALEC