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Chance for Australia to capitalise on growth in South-East Asian food and agricultural product markets: report.

A new report on food and agricultural products in South-East Asia concludes there is a great opportunity for Australia to achieve a market share of 9.5 per cent - worth almost $8 billion (in 1991 dollar terms) - by 2010, the Minister for Trade, Senator Bob McMullan, said today.

In l991, Australia had a 7.5per cent share valued at $1.5 billion.

Senator McMullan launched the report - Subsistence to Supermarket. Food and Agriculture Transformation in South-East Asia - at the National Press Club in Canberra.

The report examines the rapid growth in food and agricultural product demand in South-East Asia, assesses Australia's performance in the market to date, and makes recommendations on how that performance can be improved.

"There is a transformation in food production taking place in South-East Asia," Senator McMullan said.

"This is significant for Australia because it is leading to a shift away from traditional agriculture to higher value agriculture such as meat and livestock, fruit and vegetables, and even aquaculture.

"And these are Australia's strengths.

"It is now very much in our interests to pursue a multi-faceted strategy towards meeting South-East Asia's demand for food and agricultural products.

"This strategy should be wide-ranging across our food and agriculture base including raw materials and semi-processed products, high value-added fresh and processed goods, farm and factory equipment and technology, and food- and agriculture-related services," Senator McMullan said.

Major recommendations of the report include:

. a catalogue of Australian food and agricultural produce to be produced jointly by Government and industry for distribution throughout South-East Asia

. a Government/industry Australian Food and Agricultural Product Exposition in South-East Asia

. Australia to promote its food and agriculture RD expertise more energetically in the region

. and the Australian Government to develop an Australian database for reference by industry on food content, labelling, and packaging requirements and regulations in target Asian markets.

Produced by the East Asia Analytical Unit of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the report is available from AGPS bookshops or through AGPS mail order.

Further information:

Senator McMullan's office: John Flannery, Ph: (06) 277 7420 or 018 482 887

East Asia Analytical Unit: Judith Laffan, Ph: (06) 2612605