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10 July 2020

Western Australian Agrifood Export eNews

Agribusiness, commercial fishing and aquaculture news from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.  Please email export@dpird.wa.gov.au if you have any questions or information to share.  Click here to subscribe to this newsletter.

DPIRD supporting exporters during COVID-19

Liam O’Connell,  Executive Director of Agribusiness, Food and Trade (AFT) at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), is encouraged by the resilience of the Western Australian agriculture, food and fishery industry to date. However, he is urging WA food exporters to continue to collaborate and work closely with DPIRD and other support agencies to get through this period and build better defences for future disruptions.

Mr O'Connell says many of WA’s smaller food exporters – without large financial reserves and marketing teams – are being hit hard and it is critical they seek the support offered by DPIRD, and also access other state and federal schemes available at this time.

"COVID-19 has caused major disruption to export supply chains, international passenger flights – which normally carry a large proportion of our fresh and chilled food exports – and really impacted global demand for WA's premium quality agrifood and seafood products," he said.

"However, what we have seen is an unprecedented level of genuine collaboration between peak industry bodies, state and federal agencies, and exporters, all working together to ensure continuity of supply chains, as happened rapidly with the DPIRD-supported air freight to Singapore initiative in April."

Mr O'Connell said there are a range of support measures on offer from DPIRD – for example, the recent value add agribusiness investment grants, food and beverage vouchers, increased Buy West Eat Best (BWEB) promotional activity, and a program to supply agricultural labour to address seasonal worker requirements – and some innovative marketing approaches are being adopted, such as the recent DPIRD-hosted online virtual wine master class with a group of 22 wine industry professionals from Tokyo.

"WA Agrifood Export eNews commenced in April 2020 as a direct response to the massive trade impacts caused by COVID-19, and is being used to keep industry informed with market intelligence, upcoming webinars, regular reports from WA’s overseas offices – as well as promoting the federal International Freight Assistance Mechanism, and other state and federal supports brought in to assist exporters manage through current supply chain problems," he said.

Mr O'Connell said he and his team welcome enquiries from WA food exporters by emailing export@dpird.wa.gov.au, and also like to hear from anyone with successful market strategies being used at this time that they would like us to share in this newsletter.  Source & Photo:  DPIRD [WA's Agriculture & Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan with Liam O'Connell at the launch of the air freight to Singapore initiative, which was driven by DPIRD's AFT team.]

WA agtech start-ups zoomed to Israel

With COVID-19 travel restrictions in place, Austrade and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) recently delivered a four-day virtual bootcamp specifically for a group of Western Australian start-ups – including LiveStock Pricing, Swan Systems, Energy Farmers, Industrial Automation and GrowSafe – to help take their businesses global.

Austrade offers Australian technology start-ups the opportunity to visit their “Landing Pads” in Berlin, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore or Tel Aviv, and this training course worked with the Tel Aviv Landing.  Initially, DPIRD planned to support delegates to attend for five days in person, but with the challenges COVID-19 presented, the program was reimagined to be delivered in virtual format.

The program included highly interactive sessions with leaders in Israel's start-up sector to help our attendees develop opportunities for international engagement, and covered topics such as innovation in agriculture, developing partnerships, collaborating in research, product development, market testing, commercialisation, pitching and presentation skills and targeting investors.

Rob Kelly from LiveStock pricing said: “The virtual bootcamp was an excellent opportunity to learn from some agtech businesses, investors and corporate agribusinesses about the pathways to expand into international markets.  It was also great to form strong connections with the other WA participants.”

DPIRD Business Development Manager Peter May said it was an excellent opportunity for WA start-ups to develop relationships and learn from businesses from one of the world’s leading innovation ecosystems. "This was the first digital delivery format of a program with an Austrade Landing Pad and it proved very successful," he said.  "Austrade were great to work with, and it was a good example of DPIRD and Austrade collaborating to benefit our start-up sector.”  Source:  DPIRD  |  Related:  Australian Landing Pads official video  Source:  Austrade  |  Photo:  Austrade

Aquaculture plan to strengthen and grow WA's blue economy

Western Australia’s growing aquaculture industry is not only tapping into the world’s fast rising demand for seafood, it’s an industry with great potential to attract significant new investment for the State.

Just last month, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation estimated overall aquaculture production for human consumption will grow by more than 30 per cent this decade.

Now, Western Australia has a draft aquaculture plan to establish realistic and achievable targets and develop stability and growth over ten years, to help attract new investment to expand the industry.
The State Government has already set about establishing the infrastructure needed to support growth and expansion and, since the Premier’s Aquaculture Industry Engagement Consortium in 2017, has taken account of important industry feedback to identify the foundations for future decision-making and bring down barriers impeding industry growth.

In the past three years, the Government has declared and fully allocated the aquaculture zone off the Mid West Coast, supported establishing a South Coast development zone, joined with the Aquaculture Council of WA to build and operate Albany’s Shellfish Hatchery to support industry, invested $7 million to construct a Marine Finfish Nursery at Geraldton, and carried out upgrades to vital fish health and research services.  

Seeking public comment is now the important final step, before the Aquaculture Development Plan can be launched to guide us towards its short, medium and long term targets for WA.

The plan is available online and open for comment until 18 August 2020. For more information or to comment on the plan, please contact hayley.perhavec@dpird.wa.gov.au. More...  Source:  DPIRD  |  Related: UN: Global aquaculture production continues to smash records  Source: Intrafish  |  Photo:  DPIRD  [The state-of-the-art Albany Shellfish Hatchery is supporting the development of commercial shellfish farming in WA.]

IFAM briefing for WA

Last Friday, Federal Trade Minister Hon Simon Birmingham announced an extension to the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) of $241.9 million to enable Australian food exporters to transport perishable, time-critical, high value products to market – as well as allowing the importing of strategically important products – during the global airline disruption caused by COVID-19.

At 12 noon AWST next Wednesday 15 July 2020, Michael Byrne, Coordinator General of IFAM, will brief Western Australian industry about the extension to IFAM, and how to access the program.

Following the IFAM briefing, Matt Bronickis from the WA Freight and Logistics Council will provide an update on the sea freight situation.

If you have not already received an invitation to this webinar, please email export@dpird.wa.gov.au to receive login details for the event.  Source:  DPIRD  |  Photo:  Perth Airport

Launch of Australia–UK Free Trade Agreement negotiations

Negotiations for the Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement (FTA) were launched on 17 June 2020 in a joint statement by the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, and his UK counterpart, the Rt Hon Liz Truss.

An FTA between Australia and the UK will build on the existing strengths in two-way trade and investment and support post-COVID economic recovery in both countries. The FTA will make it easier for businesses to export, increase trade and create new opportunities for Australian businesses.

The UK is Australia’s seventh-largest trading partner with two-way goods and services trade valued at $30.3 billion in 2018–19. UK is currently Australia’s third-largest services trading partner, and second-largest overseas investor.

The FTA will open up opportunities for Australian exporters and will seek to drive increased trade in goods and services, economic growth and job creation by seeking to: Eliminate tariffs for all goods and establish mechanisms that address non-tariff barriers; Secure commitments from the UK that strengthen our trade relationship across all services sectors, including mutual recognition of professional qualifications; Reduce barriers to temporary labour mobility for skilled professionals.

The first round of negotiations for the FTA commenced on 29 June virtually.  Exporters and other interested stakeholders are encouraged to provide submissions to inform the negotiation process.  The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has more information on the Australia-UK FTA, including a benefits fact sheet.  More...  Source:  Austrade  |  Photo:  WA Agrifood Export eNews

Austrade: Improved consumer spending in Japan

Japan’s Cabinet Office monthly economic report says that although the Japanese economy remains in an extremely severe situation, it ‘almost stopped deteriorating’ in June. The report also noted improved consumer spending, Austrade reports in its latest market insight.

Prices for imported US beef and Canadian pork are both rising, according to sources. This is most apparent in the restaurant trade, but also in supermarkets. One cause may be the near total suspension of meat processing in US facilities in late May/ early June, and the likelihood that US supply will be diverted to domestic markets as commercial lockdowns are lifted. There are supply concerns within Japan’s gently recovering restaurant trade, and this may encourage importers to shift towards securing beef supplies from Australia.

Supermarkets report that sales in May 2020 were 9.8% higher than in May 2019, and 1.87 per cent higher than April 2020. Forecasters say that food purchasing patterns will gradually adjust as consumers return to eating out.

Demand from the general food-service sector continues to recover slowly, but remains far below pre-COVID-19 levels. Currently, trading companies are focusing on sales to supermarkets owing to the higher demand.  More…  Source: Austrade  |  Photo:  JTSI

EMDG applications for 2020 grant year now open

In response to COVID-19, the Australian Government has made a number of updates to the Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) scheme, which include waiving the export performance test. 

In the 2019–20 grant year a total of 4,015 recipients received a combined total of $192.2 million.  This support resulted in $4.3 billion in export earnings from 133 countries, with 52 per cent of grants going to goods exporters.

Online applications, including all required documents, must be completed before midnight Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT) 30 November 2020, or use an approved EMDG Quality Incentive Program Consultant who can lodge a claim on your behalf until midnight AEDT 2 March 2021.  More…  Source: Austrade  |  Photo:  DPIRD

Denmark bans PFAS in paper and cardboard food contact materials

In its latest Market Access Advice released this week, the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) advises that Denmark has notified its trading partners (through World Trade Organisation notification G/SPS/N/DNK/4) that it would be placing a market ban on food contact materials made of paper or cardboard if polyfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS) have been used in the manufacture of the material.

Packaging containing PFAS – including those derived from recycled paper and cardboard or from printing inks – may not be used to package food unless the packaging materials are separated from the food by a functional barrier which prevents the migration of fluorinated substances to the food.  The ban came into effect from 1 July 2020.

Processors may be asked by importers to demonstrate that materials in contact with foods such as fish and fish products, do not contain any PFAS or if used, that there is use of an additional functional barrier to ensure no migration to food can occur.

While Denmark is currently the only European Union (EU) member state to take action on use of PFAS in food contact materials, individual member states and the EU as a whole are considering risks associated with human exposures to PFAS, and similar proposals may be considered at a later date in other jurisdictions.

DAWE encourages all exporters to work with their importers to ensure product meets current importing country requirements.  For further information, please contact DAWE at exportstandards@awe.gov.auMore...  Source: DAWE |  Related:  Find out if PFAS contamination means anything for your business  Source & Graphic:  Australian Government PFAS Taskforce

WTO issues latest edition of World Tariff Profiles

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has just issued the latest edition of its annual publication World Tariff Profiles, which provides comprehensive information on the tariffs and non-tariff measures imposed by over 170 countries and customs territories. The publication is jointly prepared by the WTO, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the International Trade Centre.

Tariff data are presented in comparative tables indicating, among other things, the average "bound" or maximum tariff each economy may apply to its imports and the average tariff it applies in practice. A one-page profile for each economy provides more detailed data, with tariffs broken down by product groups and trading partners.

A summary table providing selected indicators on the imports and exports for each country and customs territory is also included. In addition, the publication provides statistics on non-tariff measures, such as safeguards and anti-dumping measures, used by WTO members.  More...  Source & Photo:  WTO  

WTO: Global trade slowing before COVID-19 hit

World trade was already slowing before the pandemic struck, weighed down by heightened trade tensions and slowing global economic growth, according to the World Trade Organisation's latest biannual monitoring report on trade measures — the first to cover a time period coinciding with the coronavirus pandemic. 

Merchandise trade was down 0.1 per cent in volume terms in 2019, marking the first decline since 2009. 

Released last week, the report shows trade growth also slowed in nominal terms in 2019, as the dollar value of merchandise exports fell by 3 per cent to $US18.89 trillion.

Although commercial services exports increased by 2 per cent to $US6.03 trillion in 2019, the pace of growth was down sharply from 9 per cent in the previous year.  More...  Source:  WTO  |  Related: How COVID-19 is remaking the economy  Source:  Australian Financial Review [paid subscription]  |  Photo:  WTO

IMF: Pandemic very costly to Asian economic growth

For the first time in living memory, Asia’s growth is expected to contract by 1.6 per cent, a downgrade to the April projection of zero growth, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). While Asia’s economic growth in the first quarter of 2020 was better than projected in the April World Economic Outlook — partly owing to early stabilisation of the virus in some countries — projections for 2020 have been revised down for most of the countries in the region due to weaker global conditions and more protracted containment measures in several emerging economies.

Asia is heavily dependent on global supply chains and cannot grow while the whole world is suffering.  In the absence of a second wave of infections and with unprecedented policy stimulus to support the recovery, growth in Asia is projected to rebound strongly to 6.6 per cent in 2021.

Even with this fast pickup in economic activity, output losses due to COVID-19 are likely to persist.  The IMF projects Asia’s economic output in 2022 to be about 5 per cent lower compared with the level predicted before the crisis; and this gap will be much larger if China is excluded, where economic activity has already started to rebound.  More...  Source:  IMF  |  Photo:  WA Agrifood Export eNews

OECD: Invest to build long-term resilience of food and agriculture sectors

The latest edition of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD)  annual Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation says countries should – in response to COVID-19 and as a defence against future economic disruptions – shift to deeper investments in building the long-term resilience of the food and agriculture sectors. The OECD report provides information on government responses to the pandemic, which include significant relief measures to support consumers, farmers and other agro-food actors, and to keep food and agricultural supply chains moving.  While many countries are focused on facilitating trade as part of their efforts to maintain supply chains, some have imposed temporary trade restrictions which can undermine supply in both the short and longer-term.

The report highlights how massive global farm subsidies are distorting markets, stifling innovation, and harming the environment.  Support policies implemented by the 54 countries studied – all OECD and European Union countries, plus 12 key emerging economies – provided on average $US536 billion per year of direct support to farmers from 2017 to 2019. Half of this support came from policies that kept domestic prices above international levels; such policies harm consumers, especially poor ones, increase the income gap between small and large farms, and reduce the competitiveness of the food industry overall. At the same time, six of the countries implicitly taxed farmers by $US89 billion per year by artificially depressing prices. These policies further added to market distortions.

By contrast, most countries spend comparatively little to underpin the long-term performance of the agricultural sector: across all 54 countries in the report, expenditures for research and development, infrastructure, biosecurity and other enabling services amounted to just $US106 billion per year. Subsidies to consumers account for a further $US66 billion per year. Total support to the sector – comprising aid to producers ($US536 billion), consumers ($US66 billion) and for enabling services ($US106 billion) – therefore added up to $US708 billion per year.  More...  Source:  OECD  |  Photo:  European Ombudsman