IT is not just foreign markets where Australian exporters need help to remove unjustified non-tariff trade barriers, but within Australia itself.
The message comes as the Federal Government launches a new action plan designed to help Australian farmers and businesses tackle unjustified non-tariff trade barriers and get goods into overseas markers faster, eaiser and at lower cost.
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham acknowledged that despite the improvements Australia’s free trade agreements had made to market access, exporters are still being hampered by non-tariff barriers such as excessive regulation and red tape.
The Action Plan will provide a more coordinated and collaborative approach with industry to identifying and addressing unfair obstacles for Australian exporters and will give them more clarity on the range of government support services available to them.
It will also look at the capabilities of Australian trade officials, technical experts and diplomats to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to better support Australian exporters.
More details on the action plan can be viewed here.
Processors welcome pledge, but say creative thinking needed
The Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) representing red meat processors welcomed the Government’s commitment to addressing non-tariff barriers, and said creative thinking and a whole-of-government approach to overcome what has been a stubborn and long-term challenge.
But it added the focus should also be within Australia.
AMIC CEO Patrick Hutchinson said AMIC is keen to work with government to ensure that Australia itself does not set unjustified NTMs for our own exporters, such as through high-cost regulatory charges for market access negotiations, as well as inspection and certification fees.
“Non-tariff barriers to trade (NTBs) are a major concern for AMICs members. By our calculations, the potential for loss of business in the red meat sector due to these barriers runs to more than $3 billion.
“Mature exporters like the meat processing industry have spent a lot of time and effort identifying and reporting NTBs and have been working with government to try to resolve them.
“What we’ve learned is that there is no easy solution here. Traditional government-to-government negotiations have not yielded significant outcomes to date so its clear that some out of the box thinking is needed.”
Mr Hutchinson said technical barriers to trade for Australian red meat processors included export plant accreditation requirements, product shelf-life restrictions and labelling issues.
“We need a concerted and focused effort to address those barriers that make it harder to get our product where it needs to go, quickly and easily,” he says.
In 2016, the Harris Report produced for AMIC and Meat and Livestock Australia identified 245 NTBs in Australia’s international red meat markets.
“AMIC has already done a lot of work towards addressing some of these barriers, including establishing standing market crisis management groups for China, Malaysia/Indonesia and the Middle East,” he said.
“We look forward to working closely with government to build on this important groundwork. To make headway, government and industry must work together, closely and with great determination.”
AMIC said it will seek periodic reviews with the federal government on progress with the action plan and will request an initial review two months from now, in early February.