Vegetable industry representative AUSVEG has welcomed the announcement in the Federal Budget for additional funding for six agricultural counsellors to represent Australia in emerging export markets.
The counsellors’ main role is to improve market access, which provides invaluable resources for vegetable growers navigating trade barriers in export markets.
A total of $51.3 million has been allocated over four years to boost agriculture exports, including through the expansion of the government’s network of agriculture trade counsellors who work on-the-ground in foreign countries to improve market access and address technical trade barriers.
It has yet to be decided where the new counsellors will be located, however it’s understood priority locations could include the United Kingdom, Latin America and markets across Asia.
The Australian vegetable industry is dedicated to building the capabilities of its growers to export produce and diversify their avenues to market.
This push will help the industry achieve its target to increase the value of vegetable exports by 40 per cent by 2020, to a value of AUD$315 million, as outlined in the industry’s export strategy.
On the ground support in key markets
AUSVEG National Manager – Export Development Michael Coote said the government funding will provide vegetable growers with more resources and on-the-ground support in key export markets and will continue to help growers trade into these markets.
“The agriculture counsellors that have already been deployed in key markets for vegetable exports, including Malaysia, Thailand and Saudi Arabia, have been invaluable resources for our industry as they have formed a crucial network negotiating market access issues and dealing with technical barriers to trade,” said Mr Coote.
“Their know-how and skills in helping to develop markets for Australian vegetables has already had a tremendous impact in increasing the amount of produce that our growers send overseas and complement the training and support that growers receive from the industry back in Australia.
“Our exports have grown 61 per cent in value over the past five years, at an average growth rate of 10 per cent per year. Retaining this strong growth is vital for the industry to meet its ambitious target of increasing the value of Australia’s fresh vegetable exports to AUD$315 million by 2020.
Flow-on effects to growers
“This most recent announcement of funding in the Federal Budget is a welcome sign that the government and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources are serious about helping our industry improve its export capabilities. This decision will have flow-on effects to all growers, including those that don’t currently export, as it will help to send more produce offshore and reduce the strain on the oversupplied domestic market.”
From January 2016, as part of the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, the Australian Government established five new agricultural counsellors in the key export markets of Vietnam, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, and the more established markets of China and Thailand.
The majority of Australia’s fresh vegetable exports are sent to markets in Asia and the Middle East, and the industry hopes that some of the six new agriculture counsellors will be located in these regions to enhance the resources available in these key markets.
Australia’s vegetable exports were valued at AUD$252 million in 2017, with its top markets being Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Carrots, onions and potatoes currently account for over 60 per cent of total vegetable export value and over 80 per cent of vegetable export volume.