China-Australia FTA will provide fillip for Aussie organics

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Last week's FTA has been seen as a watershed for trade between Australia and China
Last week's FTA has been seen as a watershed for trade between Australia and China

Related tags: Organic food

Last week’s free-trade agreement between China and Australia will potentially complement existing agreements between the two countries by boosting access for Australia organic wines, dairy products and possibly meats to Chinese consumers.  

Ben Copeman, general manager of National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (Nasaa), said the country’s true exports form 5.4% of overall Chinese gross domestic product. 

Of these, household consumption currently drives 21% of overall exports, representing a strong driver of GDP growth and a significant portion of the overall Australian export demand from China​.

This presents some real opportunities for Australian organic produce to capitalise on the FTA opportunities​.”

Converging standards

The FTA will be another step along on the way to organic standards’ equivalence between the two countries, Copeman said.

Getting greater consistency between Australia’s national organic standard and the Chinese organic regulation will make it more competitive for everyone to get Chinese certification​. 

In addition to the reduction of regulatory tariffs and the streamlining of market access agreements, the FTA will potentially further reduce cost barriers of entry to the markets throughout China​.”

This year had arguably been the most significant for Australia’s organic sector in 30 years with huge gains in export opportunities to China, according to Nasaa. 

China’s new love affair

Earlier this year, the association signed a global market access agreement with Chinese organic certifier CHC.  

The Chinese middle-class’s love affair with our clean, green certified organic beef, wine, dairy, children foods and processed foods is tipped to grow by around 20% over each of the next five years​.   

As Australia is currently one of the top three suppliers of organic foods to China, we need to be very conscious of our protecting this reputation to ensure this growth is maintained​.”  

Currently, organic products command a premium from consumers; however, that premium will only exist for as long as the consumer trusts the integrity of the organic label, Coleman said.

“Nasaa will continue to pursue its truth in labelling programme and anyone who fraudulently uses our certified organic label.”

“We call on all Australian government approved organic certifiers to support Nasaa and take the same hardline stance against any possible threat to the integrity of the organic brand.”

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