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China wheat and barley protocol update

Editorial
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The Australian Grains industry can be assured of ongoing trade worth in the order of $0.5-1.0 billion annually with China for wheat and barley following the agreement this month between both governments for a new biosecurity protocol.

The protocol is critical for ongoing trade, and was the result of a coordinated approach by the grains industry working together with government to achieve results, according to the Grains Industry Market Access Forum (GIMAF).


GIMAF executive manager, Tony Russell, said that while country to country trade protocols on the surface are always agreements between governments, the industry plays a vital part in helping craft and support the content of such agreements through a major consultative process.


“This is an established protocol that normally rolls over every three years, however for the latest renewal China proposed additional quarantine considerations that required thorough examination and detailed industry planning to propose practical solutions,” Mr Russell said.


“Quarantine is an important trade issue because the rules between countries have to be sensible, scientifically based, effective and practically achievable – something that sounds simple, but in reality can be quite complex because issues, concerns and the science surrounding them can change over time.


“Dealing with issues like this is precisely why GIMAF was formed, because input is needed from right across the industry.


“Resolving the new wheat and barley protocol has been a long process involving numerous discussions between industry members and briefings with Department of Agriculture officials, all during the sensitive period when the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement was being negotiated.


“GIMAF has coordinated several industry forums involving exporters and growers over the period including the most recent one in Melbourne just prior to Christmas. Then earlier this month GIMAF coordinated an industry tour for Chinese quarantine officials to confirm first-hand their understanding of the Australian grain export chain, visiting research facilities, a typical farm, a country storage and delivery facility, and a bulk export terminal.


“We felt that thanks to the effort of all those involved with the tour, the delegation gained a strong appreciation of the industry’s coordinated approach to biosecurity matters – hence their willingness to initial the agreement during the visit, ahead of formal signing in April.

“GIMAF would like to place on record its appreciation for the efforts of Minister Joyce and the team within the Department of Agriculture for their work and positive cooperation with the industry on this issue,” Mr Russell said.

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