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Agriculture -the global outlook

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Participants at day two of the 46th ABARES Outlook Conference heard from international experts on how global agriculture policies will affect trade into the future.

A key theme from speakers was the opportunities presented by global food demand, with developing countries providing a source of both increasing demand an increasing competition for exports.

Jammie Penm from ABARES provided an Australian perspective, and also said that developing countries such as those in Latin America would be serious competitors over the coming years.

"Growth in global food demand will present significant opportunities for Australian agricultural industries, but other countries will also be working to increase access to emerging markets and will provide stronger competition," Dr Penm said.

"Using the Australia beef industry as an example, we have seen a significant increase in beef exports in the past decade or so, the overwhelming majority of which can be attributed to increased market access."

"Brazil on the other hand, has realised 40 per cent growth in its beef exports from reduced supply costs, in addition to export growth resulting from improving market access."

Joe Glauber from the International Food Policy Research Institute spoke about the recent evolution in agricultural policies in developing countries.

"There's been a tripling of world agricultural trade since 2001," Mr GFlauber said.

"Developing countries are playing a huge role in global agricultural trade -since 2009 Brazil has increased its agricultural exports by 50 per cent, China has increased by 65 per cent, India has increased by 188 per cent and Indonesia by 67 per cent.

"The demand in developing markets has also increased markedly, with the majority of this increased output also sent to developing markets, reflecting strong demand in these nations."

Tassos Haniotis provided a perspective from the European Commission.

"There is much debate on how we spend on agriculture, including how much," Mr Haniotis said.

"The EU can look at agriculture in three different ways, as 2 per cent of economic contribution, 40 per cent of land use or a sector critical to 100 per cent of the population -everybody is affected by agriculture policies and output."

"We must anticipate future challenges, such as climate change and commitments the EU has made -climate change will be big new policy driver. 

"We try to do no harm with policies -it is less about trade distorting, protectionist measures."

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