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Understanding markets, & overcoming barriers, the key

10 October 2013

A new paper from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has been welcomed by the nation’s peak farming body as a tool to help farmers understand, and adapt to, key export markets in Asia.

The report, What Asia Wants, released by Minister Joyce at the ABARES conference in Darwin today, focuses on the long-term food consumption trends in Asia and opportunities for Australian agriculture – farmers, agribusinesses and exporters – to capitalise on these.

National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President Duncan Fraser said the report gives farmers and the wider sector a greater insight into burgeoning markets in Asia, with food consumption in the region expected to increase significantly due to larger populations and higher incomes.

“This report was instigated in response to a key ask from the NFF – ensuring that work is done beyond the farm gate to build understanding of our international markets and to improve opportunities for our sector to sell produce,” Mr Fraser said.

“The resulting report into food needs and preferences in Asia is an important tool for the farming sector to understand changing market drivers and adapt production accordingly, but – as Minister Joyce has today recognised – for our sector to be able to capitalise on the Asian opportunity, the Government must reduce market barriers and commit to comprehensive free trade agreements,” Mr Fraser said.

The release of the ABARES report comes as another report, from the European Commission Directorate-General for Trade, has found an increase in potentially trade-restrictive measures imposed by countries that trade with the European Union – many of whom also trade with Australia.

“The EU report shows that over the past 13 months, 154 new potentially trade-restrictive measures have been introduced by the EU’s trading partners,” Mr Fraser said.

“Many of the countries employing these tactics are countries that Australia also trades, and competes for market access, with – and some sit within the Asian region. This shows why it is so important for the Government to focus on reducing barriers and committing to free trade agreements, as Australian farmers are currently operating on a very uneven playing field.

“We are pleased to see Minister Joyce today acknowledge this as a key priority for the Government – and we look forward to working with him, and his colleague Minister Robb, on ensuring strong outcomes for the Australian agricultural sector,” Mr Fraser said.

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