Australian horticultural products are being exported to Asia in record numbers, according to latest figures.
Products such as cherries from Tasmania, table grapes, citrus and a range of other fruits are leading the charge, boosted by the recent signing of free trade agreements with Japan, South Korea and China.
Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said in the past 18 months trade conditions have vastly improved in many of Australia’s key markets.
“Our horticultural exports have exploded recently giving producers and exporters a big boost across Australia with improved farmgate returns,” Mr Joyce said.
“Improved market access for Tasmanian cherries to South Korea and other parts of Asia has boosted cherry exports by 30 per cent this season.
“This is a great result for growers and industry experts predict cherry exports from Tasmania could rise as much as 25-fold under the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement which has seen exports increase from virtually nothing to almost $4 million this year.”
Mr Joyce said mango exports to Korea for the 2014-15 season more than doubled those of the previous season.
“Exports are now up to around 12 per cent of total production,” he said.
Also, Australia has gained new market access for table grapes to Japan and Korea which has created significant new growth in exports in the 2015 season. Grape exports to Japan are now worth about $10 million and exports to Korea worth over $2.5 million.
Other key horticulture exports including asparagus, mangoes, olives and macadamias now face zero tariffs entering Japan. Similarly, cherries from Tasmania, almonds and dried grapes enter Korea duty free.
Opening up new markets
Mr Joyce said once the China-Australia FTA enters into force, all tariffs on horticulture products will be eliminated within four years, except citrus where tariffs will be eliminated within 8 years.
“Our recent free trade agreements with South Korea, Japan and China eliminate tariffs on key horticultural products and greatly increase the competitiveness or our horticultural exports.
“We’re also at the table negotiating new trade agreements with India, and key Asia-Pacific regional trading partners through Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“These agreements and ongoing negotiations show the commitment of this government to opening up new markets and reinvigorating existing markets for Australian products.”
Mr Joyce said the government will continue to pursue the best opportunities and conditions for Australian producers, and continue to increase returns to the farmgate.
“With these improved trade terms and a lower Australian dollar, conditions are ripe for more growth of our horticulture exports,” he said.