Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, the Hon Keith Pitt MP, says the Government is working closely with industry to ensure exporters can take full advantage of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).

"ChAFTA has delivered many positive results during its first year in force – and we are working with our farmers and food manufacturers to enable them to take maximum advantage of the agreement," Mr Pitt said today.

"We appreciate the importance of addressing a range of non-tariff measures (NTMs) and I can assure all industry stakeholders, including the Australian Food & Grocery Council and National Farmers Federation, we will clearly register our interest in using ChAFTA's built-in agenda to prioritise this issue" Mr Pitt said.

Mr Pitt noted that, unlike tariff negotiations, many NTMs, such as health and phyto-sanitary requirements, do not lend themselves to reciprocal negotiations, and that solutions need to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Mr Pitt said the Government would continue to use all available mechanisms to address NTM questions. These include mechanisms provided under ChAFTA, APEC, the World Trade Organization, and through ongoing trade negotiations, such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

"The Government is committed to continue to work hand-in-hand with industry to identify and target those NTMs of greatest concern in order to further our shared interest in maximising the benefits of Australia's FTAs."

Australian officials will meet their Chinese counterparts in Beijing today for the first meeting of ChAFTA's Committee on Trade in Goods. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will brief interested stakeholders on the outcomes from the meeting and future action.

Mr Pitt said this week marks one year since five new agricultural counsellors commenced their postings in China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand, taking Australia's network of agricultural counsellors in key markets to 17, with three now in China alone.

"The work of our agricultural counsellors is a vital part of maintaining and achieving market access for Australia's agricultural exports."

In June 2016, the Government established an NTM Working Group, led by Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, to provide a coordinated national approach and raise awareness of NTMs. Membership includes the Australian Food & Grocery Council, the National Farmers Federation, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Austrade, as well as State and Territory governments. 

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