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Australian import industry squeezed

Government changes to pre-clearance inspections are having harsh effects on Australian importers.

The Overseas Pre-clearance Inspection (OPI) scheme, offered through Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) since 2001, is about to disappear.

The government department made a decision to eliminate the program in 2016 meaning importers will have to inspect and clear fruit for arrival onshore in Australia.

Previously, Australia appointed inspectors who travel to selected ports overseas to pre-clear produce as it meets phytosanitary approvals. Now, the number of inspectors is being reduced and moved back home.

A spokesperson from the DAWR told Asiafruit that the program is being phased out because on-arrival inspection provides greater opportunities for the DAWR to drive compliance and better allocate resources according to biosecurity risk.

Industry representatives are not convinced.

A member of the Australian Horticultural Exporters and Importers Association (AHEIA) told Asiafruit that wait times for onshore clearance are sitting at around 7 or 8 days, adding an extra week to their pre-order schedule.

“The retailers don’t want to hear ‘I’m sorry but we can’t get an inspection for your program,’” they said.

Industry sources told Asiafruit that Australia’s import sector is not only concerned about their business and relationships, but the flow-on effect for export deals.

“We know that in the past several of our neighbours have used non-phytosanitary issues to restrict fruit imports,” said Neil Barker, CEO at BGP International. “When they see how effective the DAWR protectionist policy has been I have no doubt they will consider adopting the policy. If an Australian grape shipment to Jakarta airport regularly spent seven days in the cargo terminal waiting for an inspection my guess is that the trade would stop.”

Dominic Jenkin, CEO of the AHEIA explained that when inspectors are placed overseas they’re able to approve produce more efficiently as multiple orders might be stationed in a single location at a major port; last year the programme operated across 75,000 tonnes of fresh fruit imports from New Zealand and the US.

The program was offered to a handful of countries, which has dwindled over the years. Currently availability is only for the USA and New Zealand on selected fruit and veg.

The DAWR said that the removal of OPI does not impact on the number of inspectors available to the department.

However, in Australia, inspectors are having to travel much longer distances between warehouses to inspect and approve. Because of the delays, importers are also having to absorb the cost and losses from shortened shelf life and storage fees to hold sealed containers while they wait for a scheduled inspector.

To curb the problem, the DAWR decided to implement a Compliance-Based Inspection (CBI) scheme last year, which was piloted during the New Zealand avocado season.

The CBI scheme means that if a product reaches a certain number of approved inspections (for avocados it’s five in a row), they will then move to a reduced inspection rate (again for avocados, inspections will reduce to one in four shipments).

“The new scheme was intended to reward importers who could achieve a good compliance history with decreased inspection rates and faster entry. To date, no importers have achieved these reduced inspection rates,” New Zealand Avocados told Asiafruit in a statement.

“An overriding reason is the difficulty of accurately identifying often globally distributed organisms (and their eggs), down to a taxonomic level to confirm they are not of quarantine concern,” they said.

The same issue appeared in 2016 when lemons and limes from the US were subject to the trial and saw backlogs of up to ten days.

While experiencing setbacks in gaining approval, a lot of the annoyance over changes stems from the where funding of the inspection program comes from.

“The frustrating thing is that it’s industry funded. So, most of the time the limitation is cost for government processes, but this is definitely not a case of that. The industry has never said ‘we’re not willing to pay for this,’” said the anonymous AHEIA member.

The DAWR sad it’s working closely with industry and trading partners to optimise compliance and minimise any disruption, while facilitating safe trade.

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit

Author: Camellia Aebischer

AHEIA working with Vietnamese trade delegation

AHEIA's Dominic Jenkin participated in a working lunch hosted by Viet Kong Bank, at which cooperation in horticultural trade was discussed as an important opportunity to increase trade between Australia and Vietnam. Bilateral trade allows mutual support of both countries.

AHEIA is currently working on an ATMAC project - Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation program, a grant from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, to address supply chain issues.

Details of CPTPP trade deal released

Reduced and eliminated tariffs in the horticulture sector will help trade flow between the eleven countries
In late January, the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) was agreed to by 11 countries at a meeting in Tokyo.

Ahead of an official signing on 8 March, details of the deal have been released.

According to NewsHub, New Zealand trade tariffs on kiwifruit will be eliminated, including duty-free access to Japan – New Zealand’s biggest market.

Within 11 years, tariffs on apples will also be eliminated.

New Zealand's government is expecting the CPTPP to boost the nation's economy by between NZ$1.2 billion (US$881m) to NZ$4 billion (US$3.74 billion) a year.

Australia’s minister for trade, Steven Ciobo told Reuters that "the [deal] will help create new Australian jobs across all sectors – agriculture, manufacturing, mining, services – as it creates new opportunities in a free trade area.”

Australia is expecting eliminated tariffs on a range of horticulture products, as well as new trade agreements with Canada and Mexico.

Many of the countries will also benefit from reduced tariffs in the pharmaceutical and manufacturing sectors.

The Australian Horticultural Exporters and Importers Association said that the agreement will eliminate more than 98 per cent of tariffs within the trade zones.

Alongside the agreement for the CPTPP, Asia-Pacific delegates are discussing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which is expected to be signed in November this year.

The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the six states with which the ASEAN has existing free trade agreements (Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea).

The RCEP was launched as an alternative to the now-dissolved Trans Pacific Partnership, which excluded India and China.

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit

Author: Camellia Aebischer 

Peru expects Australian avocado access “in near future”

While negotiations to allow access for Peruvian avocados into Australia haven’t been advancing as quickly as many would like, an industry head is hopeful the green light will be given “in the near future.”

The two countries recently signed a free trade agreement (FTA) that will allow 96% of products from the Andean country to enter Australia tariff-free, the Peruvian government said.

Peruvian Trade Minister Eduardo Ferreyros described the deal as the country’s “the most ambitious bilateral trade agreement”.

In fresh produce he expected it would open up opportunities for table grapes, blueberries and avocados.

The Peruvian government is currently in negotiations with Australia to allow avocado market access, amid expectations for a huge future increase in volumes including a 20-25% year-on-year boost anticipated in 2018.

“There has not been much progress on the phytosanitary protocols for Australia,” ProHass vice president Daniel Bustamante told Fresh Fruit Portal.

“We are on the way, but it takes time, and we don’t know if it will be one, two or three years.”

He added that as Australia was an avocado producer, the phytosanitary barriers Peruvian growers and exporters would have to overcome were “much more exhaustive” than for other countries.

Although Australia has a mature avocado industry, Bustamante noted it imported fruit from New Zealand to help bridge the supply gap. He therefore expected there to be a place in the market for Peruvian avocados too.

According to the representative, the long transit time by sea would pose a major challenge to exporters – especially with current technology and lack of shipping routes. Sea-freighted fruit would likely arrive with maturity problems, he said.

Exports would therefore be made via air-freight, and the representative said the industry would need to optimize costs along the supply chain in order to be competitive in the market and explained the FTA would help in this regard.

However, while tariffs will be reduced under the trade deal, Australian Horticultural Exporters Association (AHEA) CEO Dominic Jenkin said the country’s import duties in general were relatively low, and a more challenging aspect for foreign suppliers would be protocol arrangements.

Australia also recently granted market access for Indonesian mangoes and dragon fruit, ABC Rural reported.

www.freshfruitportal.com

AHEIA: Callout to Aussie businesses who import fresh fruit from China and Vietnam.

Australian fresh produce importers dealing with the lucrative Chinese and Vietnamese markets are being offered a helping hand to address supply chain issues that have long tied up resources across the industry.  


The Australian Horticultural Exporters‘ and Importers’ Association (AHEIA) has been awarded a grant from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources under the Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation (ATMAC) program to address supply chain issues.


The project - ‘Bilateral Trade Facilitation through Import Value Chain Development and Capacity Building’, aims to support bilateral trade participation with Vietnam and China.


AHEIA CEO Dominic Jenkin is calling on Aussie importers wanting to improve the way they do business in China and Vietnam to sign up for the project that offers a tailored intervention.


AHEA will be working in partnership with Steritech, the sole provider of phytosanitary irradiation services in the Australian market, who will provide technical support, participate in value chain interventions and contribute their expertise to the process.
The project is supported by CSIRO which will provide relevant technical input.


AHEIA invites importers who are interested in participating in this project to contact Mr Jenkin on 0423 394 476 or dominic@horticulturetrade.com.au to find out more.


The AHEIA has been the peak industry body representing exporters and importers of horticultural produce in Australia since 1987. AHEA seeks to foster greater collaboration across the value chain, providing leadership to support and strengthen Australia's competitive advantage in the trade of horticultural produce.


http://www.horticulturetrade.com.au/ 

Kiwi fruit imports flat as locals rise to task

KIWI fruit imports are estimated to be down on last year but New Zealand remains the biggest competitor with scope to amp up its production.

Figures from Rural Bank Ag Answers show imports were forecast to be 21,966 tonnes for last year, a 14 per cent drop on the previous year.

Rural Bank Ag Answers said the reduction in imports into Australia last year was due to local production increases and flattening demand. The figures show almost three quarters of imported Kiwi fruit is from New Zealand and Ag Answers estimates there was further scope to grow if there was demand, with import volumes increasing from 15,617 tonnes in 2015 to 18,569 in 2016.

“Should demand continue to rise, it would be reasonable to assume extra Kiwi fruit would continue to come from New Zealand at the current price point,” Ag Answers said.

According to the New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers, the total volume grown across the Tasman was down from 145 million trays in 2016 to 125 million last year.

ASB rural economist Nathan Penny told The Weekly Times in areas where farms had the ability to switch between horticulture and dairy, farmers were opting to choose horticulture — particularly Kiwi fruit — due to declining milk prices.

Australian Horticultural Exporters’ and Importers’ Association chief executive Dominic Jenkin said last year Australia imported about 23,500 tonnes of Kiwi fruit from New Zealand and Italy alone, slightly above Rural Bank’s forecast.

“It was pretty flat, only about 1 per cent growth on the year prior,” Mr Jenkin said.

He said Australia exported about 970 tonnes, or about “45 containers worth.”

Australia imports about 65 per cent of kiwifruit requirements to meet demand, mostly from New Zealand and Italy.

The imported fruit is usually sold at a discount to local fruit, with the average price last year for a 10 kilogram box being $28.10, in comparison to $35.64 for Victorian Kiwi fruit.

The price for both lifted last year from $18.81 for a 10kg box of imported fruit in 2016 and $25.60/box of Victorian fruit.

Victorian fruit reached a high of nearly $50 for a 10kg box in April last year.

Demand in Australia for Kiwi fruit has grown 8.8 per cent since 2014.


LYNDAL READING, The Weekly Times

Biosecurity fears due to Australian Department of Agriculture and Water staff cuts

Australian Horticultural Exporters and Importers Association (AHEIA) chief executive Dominic Jenkin claims a staff increase at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is an “absolute priority” for horticulture to maintain import and export biosecurity.

He told weeklytimesnow.com the value of horticulture exports had risen 107% in the past five years, but the number of staff at the Department dropped by 7% in the same period.

This means the Department could not keep pace with anticipated growth in agricultural trade and the related import and export task. This led to the winding down of services including Offshore Pre-shipment Inspections. “Previously, we would have sent government inspectors off shore to inspect the fruit before it arrives,” said Jenkin. “But recently, due to staffing caps, they have been reducing staff to cost-recovered projects.”

Mr Jenkins cited produce from New Zealand and the US, which would once have been inspected before it left, and if a pest was found the shipment could be sent to another market or used domestically. “Now these pre-shipment inspections are being wound down; inspections are done in Australia, where it would be costly to re-route and it might have to be fumigated, destroyed or reconditioned.”

A Department spokesman said offshore pre-shipment inspection was only one means of verifying produce met Australia’s import conditions and was only offered to certain commodities from two countries. “The majority of horticultural fresh pathways are not inspected under OPI.”

Publication date: 1/11/2018

Source: www.freshplaza.com

Fruit exporters in a pickle over VICT picket

CONSIGNMENTS of apples and pears are among the cargo consignments held up at Webb Dock as a consequence of a picket.

The picket has been in place for two weeks and has forced a halt to operations at the nation’s newest and most modern box terminal.

Australian Horticultural Exporters’ and Importers’ Association chief executive, Dominic Jenkin, said some members had containers of Indonesia-bound pears stuck at the docks with a value of about $45,000 per container.

Even though the containers are chilled preventing the fruit from deteriorating rapidly, Mr Jenkins said there still would be a price to pay.

“The reality is fruit destined for Indonesia had at least a week and a half on the water anyway.

“So, if they had been allowed to depart they probably would only be arriving in port about now,” he said. “I wouldn’t imagine they would have their quality downgraded as of now but what may have happened is the shelf life would have been reduced to the point where they cannot be exported.

“That would see their value downgraded if they were then released onto the domestic market.”

Mr Jenkin said releasing additional volumes onto the domestic market would suppress pricing across the board.

“The other (issue) is these items would have been purchased by an importer who will have had a structured supply program into retail over in these export markets.

“They see themselves being put in a situation where they can’t fulfil their commitments,” he said.

Indonesian importers would look to substitute product from other parts of the world, notably South Africa, a country with lower production costs.

“That offers a market opportunity for our global competitors to move in on our markets,” Mr Jenkins said.

A VICT spokesman told DCN the picket remained in place and the company was seeking further injunctions against picketers.

The Supreme Court hearing is to be held at 3pm Monday.

Source: http://www.thedcn.com.au - Daily Cargo News

Author: David Sexton 

Date: 11th Dec 2017