Free trade agreements provide export hope for struggling Australian vegetable growers
Recently concluded free trade agreements with Japan, South Korea and China could pave the way for greater exports of premium Australian vegetable products according to a discussion paper released today by AUSVEG titled ‘Exporting Australia’s vegetables to the Middle East & Asia: Market analysis & overview.’
“Lower returns domestically can be attributed to an excess supply of fresh produce which has a downward effect on price. This oversupply could be re-directed overseas to growing markets in the Middle East and Asia, where there is an increasing demand for premium vegetables,” said Mr Steve Razdan, AUSVEG Economist.
AUSVEG is the leading voice in Australian horticulture, representing 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.
“Australian vegetable growers are currently enduring tough business conditions locally, with farm profits having decreased by a staggering 25 per cent over the last financial year due to rising production costs and low returns,” said Mr Razdan.
“The implementation of the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) has instantly eliminated tariffs for carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, with many other vegetables having their tariffs reduced over time.”
“There are opportunities to access international markets such as Japan by trading on the basis of Australia’s clean and green reputation and delivering high quality products.”
Japan is a leading export destination for Australian vegetables, accounting for almost 40 per cent of vegetable exports to Asia in 2013-14.
“In light of recent free trade agreements, improved market access and information for growers on exporting are also essential to increase vegetable exports and assist growers to be more competitive internationally,” said Mr Razdan.
According to the discussion paper, Australia’s higher quality vegetables are prime for exporting, with a rapidly growing middle class in Asia and projected growth in the food sector in the UAE stimulating demand for a greater variety of vegetables.
“Growth in the food and hospitality sector in the UAE is forecast to increase by 20 per cent per annum through to 2018, so there are definitely opportunities to export more Australian produce to countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” said Mr Razdan.
AUSVEG is actively working with growers to improve export readiness and promote opportunities for export. An AUSVEG symposium on Exporting to Malaysia and the UAE is being held today and tomorrow in Adelaide, with vegetable growers from around Australia in attendance.
MEDIA CONTACT: Steve Razdan, Economist
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