Australia and China have agreed to new horticulture market access priorities that will allow future exports of Australian blueberries to China.
The inclusion of blueberries on the priority list will progress after the existing access priority of mainland apples.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the agreement will improve Australia's horticultural market access and support the trade relationship between the two countries.
"The Coalition Government has worked closely with China to progress our horticulture market access priorities and through the new two and two agreement we are focusing our efforts on access for mainland apples, followed by Australian blueberries," Minister Joyce said.
"The new agreement will commence following completion of summerfruit protocols under the previous four and four agreement.
"Technical market access negotiations are scientifically complex and do take time, as each country looks to safeguard its national biosecurity interests and food safety standards."
In 2006, Australia and China agreed to prioritise negotiations by considering each other's top four horticulture market access requests through a 'four and four' agreement, which has provided agricultural trade benefits for both countries.
Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Luke Hartsuyker, said the new agreement will build on market access achievements delivered under the previous four and four agreement.
"The previous agreement supported access for Australian table grapes, and cherries, with nectarines completed and progress being made on access for other summerfruits—peaches, plums and apricots," Minister Hartsuyker said.
"We currently export blueberries to almost 20 countries and the new agreement provides a significant opportunity for the Australian industry to access another valuable market.
"Identifying and making use of these new opportunities will help support the ongoing productivity and profitability of the Australian blueberry industry."
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, said China is one of Australia's most important trading partners and this is welcome news for our blueberry and apple industries, as well as our $9 billion horticulture industry as a whole.
"As a trading nation that has developed to supply food and fibre to global markets, exports underpin our national economy and the profitability of our agriculture sector."
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will work closely with the Australian apple and blueberry industries to guide and inform its work in preparing for market access submissions to China.
- Australia's agricultural exports to China was worth over A$10 billion in calendar year 2016.
- Australia exported A$8.9 million worth of blueberries to all destinations and A$4.4 million to Hong Kong in calendar year 2016.
- In 2006, Australia and China agreed to consider each other's top four horticulture market access requests concurrently through a 'four and four' agreement.
- Australian commodities covered under this agreement are table grapes, cherries, summerfruit and apples.
- China market access for Australian cherries was gained in 2013, nectarines in 2016 and access for other summerfruits - peaches, plums and apricots - is currently being negotiated.
- The Coalition Government successfully negotiated market access for Australian blueberries to India in September 2015.