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15 May 2020

Western Australian Agrifood Export eNews

This weekly newsletter is produced by the Agribusiness Food and Trade Directorate of the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.  Please email export@dpird.wa.gov.au if you have any questions or information to share.  New subscribers should click here to register for this newsletter.

Gulf opportunities for WA agrifood exporters

The Dubai and Gulf region's phenomenal economic growth over the last few decades has positioned it as one of the top three export and re-export hubs in the world.  As a natural geographic gateway to the 2.5 billion people of the Gulf, Middle East and South Asian markets, the region has emerged as a major re-exporting hub with connectivity between sea and air transport. United Arab Emirates (UAE) is home to one of the world’s busiest ports, with re-exports of about A$100 billion worth of commodities to the Middle East. Dubai Logistics City, Dubai Cargo Village and Al Maktoum International Airport – set to be the largest airfreight hub in the world – all deliver expert services and resources to worldwide exporters and re-exporters.

Food security is the major area of concern for the Gulf countries (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman) as 90% of total food requirements are imported.  The supply of grains, red meat, fresh produce and animal feed is a priority for regional governments and food distribution companies, and Australia is perceived as a supplier of good quality and reliable exports, with significant historical background in the region.  During the COVID-19 era, strong Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) government support for food security and reliance on food imports will continue, as governments have called on retailers to increase supply considering the heightened consumer demand.  The need for food reserves is of key importance to the UAE and other GCC countries, who have accelerated government measures to require companies to comply with the UAE Food Security Strategy. As an example, Dubai had lowered import duties by 20% for the next three months.  Currently, all major WA producers of grains, fresh produce and meat are actively engaged and are exporting to this market.

As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, GCC governments have been easing the regulations for Arabic labelling, and thus market entry was further improved, and WA retail and food service companies can explore this opportunity.  Also, the shelf life for chilled red meat has been increased in Kuwait and Jordan (along with most Gulf countries), for both beef and sheep meat products, which represents an opportunity for chilled meat exporters through vacuum packed sea freights. By diversifying agrifood exports to the GCC region, it presents an important opportunity for the WA agrifood exporters to capitalise on the increased demand from the GCC region and reduce risks in other markets.

Saudi Arabia has allocated A$828 million to fund agriculture imports and secure food supplies amid COVID-19 fears, and has grown increasingly dependent on grain imports, becoming a major importer of wheat and barley. Qatar has strengthened its position as Australia's second largest trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa region, and food exports due to direct flights have grown during the pandemic.

At the height of market activity, there were five daily nonstop flights between Perth and UAE/Qatar.  Now, the Australian Government is offering support to exporters wanting to connect to the Gulf markets through the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM), which Gulf airlines such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar have qualified for and are backing. This will further bolster the food and agriculture export base, with fresh horticulture, dairy and meat occupying much of the freight on flights.

The Government of Western Australia Dubai Office was opened in 2002, in recognition of the increasing opportunities for the export of Western Australian products and services to the Gulf region.  Food and agriculture exports from WA and Australia continue to be the most important export component of trade and investment with the Gulf region at A$3.9 billion annually.

For enquiries specific to the Gulf markets, exporters can contact the Government of Western Australia Commissioner, Mr Pankaj Savara, and agribusiness expert, Mr Aziz Saba.  For general enquiries, connect with the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation Invest and Trade team or the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.  The government’s Dubai office provides ongoing support for WA agrifood exporters by providing market insights, tailored business matching support and facilitating introductions to key importers in the region. More...  Source & Photo: GoWA Dubai  |  Related:  Government of Western Australia - Global offices

Fish Finder directory expands in WA

More than 50 Western Australian seafood retailers are now listed on the Seafood Industry Australia Fish Finder directory, allowing delivery or easy collection methods to help get Australian seafood into homes.

Seafood is packed full of omega-3s which reduce inflammation, support your immune system, and can even help reduce stress and anxiety — things we all need right now.

The Fish Finder directory helps consumers find and purchase fresh or cooked Australian seafood online or direct from retailers for delivery or pick-up.

WA Fishing Industry Council chief executive, Alex Ogg, said the Fish Finder directory is a great initiative that is well-timed to help showcase Western Australia’s leading seafood suppliers stocking the State’s freshest products.

“I expect the Fish Finder directory will help build on growing consumer awareness of seafood as they recognise its health benefits.”  More…  Source: SIA  |  Photo:  DPIRD

COVID-19 update for exporters

Austrade’s global network is monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak across international markets and providing the latest information to help you manage the impact of the outbreak on your business.

In China, the national first quarter economic numbers show interesting statistics on food consumption. 

Food and alcohol consumption increased 2.1%, per capita spending on home-cooked meals increased 15.5%, while vegetables increased 20.8%.

Spending on meat increased 31.9%, poultry increased 30.3%, and eggs increased 24.4% year on year.  China recorded its highest-ever meat imports in a month in March 2020.  More…  Source: Austrade  |  Photo:  WA Agrifood Export eNews

New business loans for exporters affected by COVID-19

To assist Australian exporters impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, a new $500 million capital facility has been established.

Administered by Export Finance Australia, the facility will provide loans between $250,000 and $50 million to established and previously profitable exporters who, due to COVID-19, are unable to gain finance from commercial sources.  More...  Source:  Austrade  |  Related: Export hub grants help businesses through crisis  Source: Federal Minister for Trade  |  Australia’s inward investment tops A$1 trillion  Source:  Austrade  |  Photo:  Hong Kong Airport

Free trade deal with Indonesia kicks off 5 July

Australian exporters will soon start reaping the benefits of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA), with Australia receiving formal notification that Indonesia has completed its domestic ratification processes.

Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the landmark trade deal with Indonesia would enhance export opportunities and deliver significant benefits for Australian farmers, businesses and investors.

Minister Birmingham said this is the most comprehensive bilateral trade agreement Indonesia has ever signed, and will give a competitive edge to Australian exporters, particularly at a time when many are doing it tough as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. 

Agricultural products are among Australia's key merchandise exports to Indonesia, with Western Australia exporting $362 million of wheat and $145 million of live cattle to this key market in 2018-19.  More…  Source: Federal Minister for Trade  |  Related: Indonesia country brief  Source: DFAT  |  Photo:  DPIRD

Webinar: Indonesia update on agribusiness and food – COVID-19 and beyond

Austrade and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta are presenting an expert panel of speakers to provide Australian agriculture, food and beverage exporters with the latest updates from Indonesia.

This webinar – taking place next Monday 18 May at 12 noon  AWST – will dive into current trends in Indonesia being observed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and insights to assist Australian exporters to position their business for the future.

This will include insights on: current consumer demand in Indonesia during the COVID-19 pandemic and anticipated future trends; the retail landscape in Indonesia during the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of new trends and technologies; insights from ABARES research into the impact of COVID-19 on agriculture and food demand and supply across the ASEAN region; and supply chains and connectivity in Indonesia during the COVID-19 pandemic.  More...  Source:  Austrade  |  Food and Hotel Asia's HoReCa postponed until May 2022  Source: FHA  |  Photo:  DPIRD

New air freight network to restore global supply chains

A network of 15 freight forwarders and air freight service providers are working together to enable essential imports such as medical supplies and help Australian producers deliver their high-value agriculture and fisheries exports to key overseas markets.

The network will allow the Federal Government’s International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) to help re-establish global supply chains which have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 containment measures around the world. 

Exporters should submit an Expression of Interest to access IFAM flights.  More… Source: Austrade  |  Photo:  Narita International Airport

Global food commodity prices drop further in April

World food commodity prices declined for the third month in a row during April, as the economic and logistical impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in significant contractions in demand for many commodities.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) Food Price Index, which tracks international prices of the most commonly-traded food commodities, averaged 165.5 points in April, some 3.4 per cent lower than the previous month and 3 per cent lower than April 2019.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting both the demand and supply sides for meat, as restaurant closures and reduced household incomes lead to lower consumption and labour shortages on the processing side are impacting just-in-time production systems in major livestock producing countries," said FAO Senior Economist Upali Galketi Aratchilage.  More…  Related: Monthly Report on Food Price Trends  |  Source & Photo: FAO