Research paper shows Chinese market puzzle is challenging, not impossible

31.5.13

Several factors are blocking Australian producers' access to burgeoning Chinese fruit and vegetable markets, including the lack of a Fair Trade Agreement between the countries.

Parliamentary intern Tegan Bensley, who has been working with Tasmanian Senator Richard Colbeck, has produced a report which identifies a series of challenges to market access.

However, her conclusion is that the task of tapping into ballooning demand is possible.

"It certainly will take a change in mindset by producers, but also new structures and support from Government," Ms Bensley said.

Among the initiatives recommended by Ms Bensley are:

- Better branding around the quality and safety of Australian produce.

- More horticultural trade fairs in both China and Australia.

- The Government making a China-Australia Free Trade Agreement a top priority.

- Continuing investment in research and development to underpin the competitiveness of the Australian sector.

Senator Colbeck, who chaired the Senate committee inquiry into Australia's food processing sector, which handed down its findings last year, congratulated Ms Bensley on her work.

"This is a highly complex area and for too long it has been set aside by the Labor Government," he said. "New Zealand has navigated a Free Trade Agreement with China and, as a result, we are less competitive when it comes to accessing those markets.

"Tegan's work also moderates some of the hyperbole that exists around Australia's place in this important market. The hype has been that Australia will be the food bowl of Asia, however, the reality is that even with a doubling of supply into the Asian Market by 2050 we will still only constitute 1.3% of that market

"The opportunity is and must be to target high quality premium products into specific, value markets that will provide a strong return to growers."

Tegan Bensley is a final semester Commerce and Asia-Pacific Studies student at the Australian National University in Canberra. She was a participant of the Australian National Internship Program (ANIP).

Exporting Vegetables to China - Examining Opportunities and Barriers. Tegan Bensley 30.5.13310513 Research paper shows Chinese market puzzle is challenging, not impossible
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