The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has stated that a multilateral agreement must be reached at the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in order to build momentum for trade liberalisation.
The conference which is currently taking place in Bali, has trade ministers from more than 150 nations in attendance, and the AFGC says that a WTO agreement covering trade facilitation and food will be beneficial to Australian food exporters.
Gary Dawson, AFGC’s CEO said that Australian exporters within the sector are looking to capitalise on opportunities within key markets such as Asia and that global trade rules set by the WTO will be crucial to achieve growth.
"We know the Australian government, through Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb and his officials, are working hard to secure a deal and we strongly support those efforts,” said Dawson.
"An agreement on trade facilitation - to reduce red tape and move towards more harmonised and transparent customs rules - is a particular focus of the proposed agreement. This would have benefits for Australian food and grocery exporters, particularly SMEs and companies involved in global supply chains for food and grocery products.
Dawson said that Australia is well positioned to capitalise on export opportunities within the global marketplace due to the nation’s reputation for high quality foods.
"Australia's food, beverage and grocery manufacturing sector currently exports around $24 billion of products each year. The combination of high quality agricultural produce and very high food safety standards in Australia's food processing sector mean we are well placed to capitalise on growing export opportunities for processed and semi-processed foods.
"Moving Australian food exports up the supply chain means more value-add in Australia - generating jobs and growth. Efforts by government and industry to facilitate this trade, through the WTO and through bilateral and other trade negotiations, are crucial to the future of Australia's largest manufacturing sector,” he said.
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