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Apples next priority for China access, Joyce confirms

Export & Market Access

**UPDATE: Australia and China signed off on new market access protocols for peaches, plums and apricots on November 9.**

Apples are next in line for market access negotiations with China, the Federal Government confirmed this week.

Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce announced on Monday that Australia and China had struck a new ‘two and two’ agreement which would prioritise market access negotiations based on each country’s top two priority horticulture market access requests.

Blueberries have been listed as an Australian priority after strong lobbying by the blueberry industry for market access but the Government said negotiations for blueberry access would only progress after the existing access priority of mainland apples.

“Through the new two and two agreement we are focussing our efforts on access for mainland apples, followed by Australian blueberries,” Minister Joyce said.

The two and two agreement succeeds the earlier four and four agreement struck in 2006 under which Australia sought access for table grapes, cherries, summerfruit and apples. Mainland apples will transition to the new agreement and will be discussed alongside China’s bid to seek Australia market access for cherries.

Tasmanian Tiger Fuji apples are already being successfully exported to China from Tasmania.

APAL CEO Phil Turnbull welcomed the confirmation that apples were next in line for China market access negotiations and said Australian growers had been waiting patiently since their inclusion in the original agreement in 2006 and were keen to start working with Chinese authorities to bring Australian apples to Chinese consumers

“While every industry wants their fruit to be first in line, we respect the process in place and have waited for our turn,” he said. “We are pleased to see our position as next in line confirmed.”

“Export is a key priority for the apple and pear industry. Tasmanian growers are already exporting apples into China and mainland exporters are looking forward to developing protocols to enable them to do so as well.

“Australia growers are among the world’s best, producing top quality apples in clean, green surroundings with rigorous attention to food standards. Chinese companies are buying into our orchards to source Australian fruit and we know there are plenty of Chinese consumers who would like access to Australian apples.

“We have just released our new Apple & Pear Industry Export Development Strategy in which we have set ourselves the target of exporting 10 per cent of production by 2020.  We look forward to ensuring that Chinese consumers have the opportunity to be part of that plan.”

Mr Joyce said the two and two agreement would commence following completion of summerfruit protocols under the previous four and four agreement.

There is no set timeline for when this will occur, but negotiations around access for additional summerfruit varieties are reportedly well advanced and the department is hopeful of an outcome in the near term.

China market access for Australian table grapes was gained in 2010 and contributed to a boom in table grapes exports. Cherries gained access in 2013, nectarines in 2016 and access for other summerfruits – peaches, plums and apricots – is currently being negotiated.

“Technical market access negotiations are scientifically complex and do take time, as each country looks to safeguard its national biosecurity interests and food safety standards,” Mr Joyce said.

Australia’s agricultural exports to China were valued at over $10 billion in 2016.

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, said China is one of Australia’s most important trading partners and this is welcome news for our blueberry and apple industries, as well as our $9 billion horticulture industry as a whole.

“As a trading nation that has developed to supply food and fibre to global markets, exports underpin our national economy and the profitability of our agriculture sector.”

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will work closely with the Australian apple and blueberry industries to guide and inform its work in preparing for market access submissions to China.


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