While Australia's export beef industry faces numerous barriers to trade in the form of tariffs and quotas, less visible technical barriers to trade also play a significant role in undermining price competitiveness and access to important markets.
A recent research project co-funded by Meat & Livestock Australia's market access program reviewed 261 so-called 'technical barriers to trade' (TBT) in 40 key markets.
TBTs include the technical factors that restrict trade, including limits on expiry dates, lengthy accreditation processes and in-country distribution restrictions.
The review found that 136 TBTs had significant trade restricting effects, the total value of the impacts being estimated at $1.25 billion.
The remaining 125 TBTs, while still on the radar, were not a source of concern or currently do not have a significant effect on trade activity.
MLA’s Manager of International Markets and Trade Services, Andrew McCallum, said TBTs can be as detrimental as tariffs and quotas.
“Technical barriers to trade increase product preparation and delivery costs, and require compliance to conditions often exceeding commonly accepted standards. At the end of the day, they raise the cost, increase the difficulty in supplying a particular market and often restrict export sales opportunities,” Andrew said.
“Even in cases where Australia has negotiated reductions in tariff barriers, TBTs can dilute gains and erode the competitive position of Australian red meat.
“The prioritising process during the research was a complex and lengthy one involving economic modelling and road testing the results with commercial exporters.”
The next step is to work through the results in conjunction with exporters and the Government, as resolution of these imposts will require a joint industry and government effort.
The development of Action Plans for each of the key TBTs, which defines the proposed strategy and assigns resources (both in Australia and in our overseas markets), will provide an important framework for tackling these issues.
Top five TBT issues
- Product age and expiry date conditions
- Market listing and accreditation restrictions
- Product entry restrictions (bans)
- Tariff quota administration and import permit issues
- Increased packing costs from labelling requirements