Market access

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MLA's role in market access

As a major exporting industry, changes in access to overseas markets affect the profitability of both individual livestock producers and meat processors. Complex international markets require an ongoing effort to defend existing rights of access to livestock and meat markets, and where possible, to secure improvements to export conditions via trade reform.

MLA’s market access program supports industry and government to defend and maintain existing favourable access conditions, position Australia favourably in trade negotiations and assist with the alleviation of non-tariff (technical) trade barriers (NTB).

Maintenance of favourable market access conditions and securing trade reform are commonly undertaken at a government-to-government level. MLA assists government officials in this effort through our head office in Sydney, our overseas offices in Washington, Tokyo, Seoul, Brussels, Dubai, Beijing and Jakarta, and via our network of representatives in South Asia.

The Australian Government implements an integrated trade policy program with the goal of creating new and more open markets for exports. This is achieved through three key trade reform avenues:

  • Multilateral trade: involves discussions with a large number of countries and is achieved through the World Trade Organization (WTO). 
  • Regional trade: involves numerous countries within a specified region.
  • Bilateral trade: involves two countries and is advanced via free trade agreements and individual country/sector negotiations on market access.

MLA, in conjunction with industry stakeholders, works alongside the Government in pursuit of this goal. Broadly speaking, MLA has a trade advocacy role.

Trade barriers

A large number of Australia's overseas markets are subject to some form of entry barrier. These impediments to trade are imposed in many forms.

Border protection measures, including tariffs and quotas, are the most obvious. However, non-tariff barriers including unfair competition in the form of subsidies, technical imposts, and exports from countries that subsidise their domestic industries, are also major issues.

Key trade forums

Free trade agreements

Free trade agreements (FTAs) or closer economic partnerships promote stronger trade and commercial ties between participating countries, and open up opportunities for Australian exporters and investors to expand their business into key markets. They can speed up trade liberalisation by delivering gains faster than through multilateral or regional processes.

The Australian red meat and livestock industry has been the recipient of major  market access benefits via the FTAs complete to date. This has involved the reduction or elimination of tariffs as well as improvements to other, previously trade restrictive, measures. It is estimated that the benefits of Australia’s the three North Asian FTAs: Korea (KAFTA), Japan (JAEPA) and China (ChAFTA) will result in a combined $20 billion in extra value for the Australian industry over the next twenty years.

For information on the status of Australia’s FTAs see the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Status of FTA negotiations. For information on agreements in force see the DFAT Free Trade Agreement Portal

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