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Quality the key to lifting apple, pear and cherry exports

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Judith Troeth Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy

DPIE98/41T 18 August 1998


The Federal Government is working hard to ensure fair access for Australia's horticultural products in overseas markets, while at the same time ensuring imports meet strict safety and quarantine requirements, Senator Judith Troeth said today.

Senator Troeth, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, was speaking in Adelaide at the conferences of the Australian Apple and Pear Growers Association and the Cherry Growers of Australia.

"The Government strongly believes that increasing exports is the key to Australia's horticulture industry achieving its full potential," she said. "But the Government also recognises that this can often be a difficult and complex task.

"Many countries put up phytosanitary barriers to our produce because of concerns over pests and diseases, and by their very nature, fresh produce such as apples, pears and cherries, are particularly susceptible.

"Every link in the supply chain needs to ensure our produce remains wholesome, healthy and free of disease or contamination. And we must have appropriate, science based testing procedures in place to ensure we meet our customers' expectations.

"Market access into China for Tasmanian apples was secured last November, and the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) is presently negotiating with the Japanese to accept our Fuji apples, which are also grown in Tasmania.

"The Horticultural Industries Market Access Committee considers securing access to the Japanese market for fresh Australian cherries as one of its main priorities. Although there are still issues to be resolved concerning fruit fly and codling moth treatments, the potential gains for the industry are significant."

Senator Troeth said it was pleasing that both the Australian Apple and Pear Growers Association and the Cherry Growers of Australia were members of Horticultural Industries Market Access Committee.

"This shows they not only recognise the importance of lifting exports, but that they also want to be at the forefront of making it happen," she said.

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Senator Troeth said both industries depended heavily on Asia as an export destination, and while the region's economic crisis was bound to have an impact, they should maintain their faith in Asia as a long term market while at the same time continue to look for new markets and opportunities.

"Part of being more market focussed is recognising the importance of ongoing research and development," she said. "Long term breeding programs, such as those being undertaken by the apple and pear and cherry industries, are vital to maintaining international competitiveness."

Senator Troeth said that AQIS was also keeping a watchful eye on imports, such as cherries from the United States and pome fruit from north Asia, to ensure dangerous pests and diseases are not introduced into Australia.

"All new requests for access to our markets will undergo a thorough risk assessment," she said. "AQIS's import risk analysis process will ensure they are both science based and involve the close consultation and participation of local industries."

Senator Troeth said that Australia's horticultural industries are also benefiting from broader Government initiatives for agriculture, including the Action Plan for Australian Agriculture and the Prime Minister's Supermarket to Asia program.

"These initiatives, and the Government's wider economic policies, will assist the apple and pear and cherry industries to make an important contribution to the prosperity of rural Australia and earn valuable export revenue," she said.

Further inquiries:

Senator Troeth's office Alex Staples (02) 6277 3002/0417 449 921

DPIE Andrew Combe (02) 6272 5493