Non-Tariff Barriers Explained

NON-TARIFF MEASURES AND TRADE BARRIERS

Governments can apply their own rules and procedures to manage the flow of goods and services into their country. For example the Australian Government, like our trading partners, impose non-tariff measures on importers to protect human, animal and plant health.

However, when these rules are not transparent, are overly restrictive or arbitrarily applied, or are inconsistent with trade rules, they can become barriers to trade.

  • FRESH FRUIT MARKET OPENS FOR AUSSIE EXPORTERS TO INDIA

    Australia’s trade with India has had a boost with new biosecurity arrangements in place that open the door to more export opportunities for Aussie fruit growers.


    Agriculture Counsellor based in New Delhi, Nora Galway, said that India has approved Australia’s use of in-transit cold treatment of a variety of fruits, which is a major breakthrough for our farmers.

    "This outcome is very positive and it means that our fresh produce, such as table grapes, apples, pears and summer fruit, arrive in an even higher quality state in the destination country", said Dr Galway.

    "Being able to treat our produce in-transit, we get it to market quicker and our exporters can charge a premium based on the increased freshness.

    "In 2018, Australia’s two-way trade with India was valued at over $1 billion, and we exported $664 million worth of agriculture, fisheries and forestry products. These outcomes show the interest and maturity of our agricultural relationship with India. They also come as a result of the great teamwork from across the department in Canberra, and in India, as well as with Austrade, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and industry," said Dr Galway.

    For further information on Australia’s trading relationship with India visit the DFAT website

    *This case study originally appeared in Agriculture Trade Matters publication, on the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website

    green apples
  • PROMISING PROGRESS ON BARLEY TRADE WITH INDIA

    Australian exporters of malting barley are a step closer to access to an important new market following the removal of a technical barrier impeding trade of the grain with India.


    Previously, the Indian government had restrictive technical plant health requirements for the treatment of barley entering their market. While these measures are trade rules to protect local plant health, India’s specific requirements limited flexibility. In effect they acted as a barrier to Australian barley when treated with an alternative product that was widely accepted by our other trading partners.

    GOVERNMENT ADVOCACY REAPS RESULTS BUT STILL MORE WORK TO DO

    Following long-term advocacy efforts by officials from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE), the Indian government updated their permissions for barley treatment options.

    The Australian Government provided biosecurity training and engaged with Indian government officials to improve understanding of the reliability of Australian practices. This work brought together collective efforts from DAWE, Austrade and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as well as industry to understand market requirements, identify local demand and deliver a positive outcome for both countries.

    TRADE CONDITIONS CLOSE TO READY

    “This outcome is very positive for Australia’s role in global malt production and in helping India grow its own sector”, said Agriculture Counsellor based in New Delhi, Nora Galway.

    "In 2018, Australia’s two-way trade with India was valued at over $1 billion, and we exported $664 million worth of agriculture, fisheries and forestry products. This outcome shows the interest and maturity of our agricultural relationship with India.”

    The removal of this trade barrier is a major step towards significant new market access opportunities, with the Indian barley market expected to reach demand of up to 500,000 tonnes.

    barley grains
  • MUTUAL RECOGNITION FOR ORGANICS WITH TAIWAN

    CHANGE TO LOCAL FOOD LAWS PRESENTS A BARRIER

    Up until 2019, Australia’s organic production standards for exported produce were permitted under Taiwan’s import regulations. This changed when Taiwan introduced new legislation requiring all exporting countries to enter into an organic equivalency arrangement.


    QUICK WORK TO AVOID DELAYS FOR AUSTRALIAN BUSINESSES

    The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment was responsible for developing a mutual organic equivalency arrangement which was signed following negotiations with Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture with the assistance of the Australian Office in Taiwan. Signing of the arrangement resulted in Australia becoming the first country to meet this new requirement with Taiwan. This effectively gave Australian exporters of organic produce a head start with access to the Taiwanese market.

    The establishment of the mutual recognition arrangement not only enables Taiwan to recognise Australia’s systems and processes for organic certification, but also ensures that trade can continue without any disruption.

    AUSTRALIAN EXPORTERS TO REAP EARLY BENEFITS

    The arrangement removes excess regulatory requirements which may have otherwise restricted the trade in Australian organic produce exported to Taiwan.

    The Australian organic industry strongly supports this opportunity for market access across a broad range of products. The agreement covers products including crops, livestock, aquatic plants and most processed foods.

    With 83 per cent of current exports in value-added certified organic processed products, this new arrangement provides a commercial advantage to Australian high-quality premium produce and is set to deliver significant growth for Australia’s 7th largest goods export market.

    crate of organic apples
  • $100 MILLION DOLLAR OPPORTUNITY FOR AUSSIE RED MEAT IN THE MIDDLE EAST

    SHORT SHELF-LIFE REQUIREMENTS IMPEDE TRADE

    There is a strong demand for Australian red meat in the Middle East, but short shelf life requirements on chilled, vacuum packed meat in the region have restricted potential market opportunities for Australian exporters in the past.


    Cost effective sea freight could not be used due to the products’ short shelf life, and to maximise the availability of meat in the markets, exporters were required to distribute using expensive air freight.

    INDUSTRY AND GOVERNMENT WORKING TOGETHER

    “Australia has not previously been able to take full advantage of the fantastic shelf life that Australian product has in the Middle East because of non-tariff trade barriers. The increase in shelf life in the Middle East has an estimated industry benefit of $100 million dollars,” said Jason Strong, Managing Director, Meat & Livestock Australia.

    For several years, the Australian Government, working closely with the Australian meat export industry, has advocated the commercial and scientific merits of increasing the accepted shelf life period for vacuum-packed chilled meat in markets including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

    This paid off in 2017 when the UAE increased its maximum shelf life to 120 days for vacuum-packed beef and to 90 days for sheep meat. In April 2020, Kuwait announced the extended shelf life of chilled, vacuum packed beef and sheep meat in line with the UAE standard. Saudi Arabia is also set to accept extended shelf life and joins Qatar, who extended shelf-life for Australian vacuum-packed beef and sheep meat in 2015.

    These changes are providing Australia's meat exporters more flexibility in exporting meat to the Middle East, helping to reduce costs by making bulk shipments via sea more viable in preference to sending smaller consignments at high-cost by air.

    EXPANDING EXPORT OPPORTUNITIES IN THE MIDDLE EAST

    As a result of sustained advocacy by the Australian Government, these measures will support Australian producers by expanding and ensuring significant savings for the red meat industry.

    National Farmers' Federation President Fiona Simson said, "The breaking down of non-tariff trade barriers is acutely important for all agricultural exports with seemingly 'simple' barriers often costing sectors significantly as a result of limited or no market access.

    "The positive outcome for beef and sheep meat demonstrates the value of industry and government working together to achieve tangible results for Australian farmers, food processors and manufacturers."

    Advocacy results in extended shelf life for meat to the Middle East
  • NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR TASMANIAN SEAFOOD EXPORTER

    NAMING CONVENTIONS PRESENT AN EXPORT BARRIER

    The first query lodged through the Non-Tariff Barriers Gateway was from Huon Valley Seafood—a Tasmania-based seafood processing and packing business that employs 16 staff.


    Despite expanded export market access opportunities provided by the China–Australia Free Trade Agreement, one of Huon Valley Seafood’s products—Gould’s Squid—was not on China’s eligible species list that approves exports from Australia.

    In January 2019—following long-term efforts by the Department of Agriculture—four new seafood species, including Gould’s Squid, were added to the eligible species list and granted market access.

    "Improved market access for Australian seafood products into a diversity of markets is a great win, as suppliers will be able to grow their business to fill increased international orders," said Jane Lovell, Chief Executive Officer, Seafood Industry Australia.

    The market access achievement has been touted as a major win for the seafood industry by Huon Valley Seafood.

    "We are anticipating sales between three and four million dollars next season, which will substantially increase our turnover and direct employment," said Ambrose Coad, Managing Director of Huon Valley Seafood.

    "The flow-on effect to the fishing industry and transport sector is also very positive. All these factors are important to the continued viability of our company and the industry."

    New opportunity for Tasmanian seafood exporter
  • CHERRIES RIPE FOR IMPROVED ACCESS TO CHINA

    TAPPING INTO DEMAND FOR QUALITY FRESH FRUIT

    Australian cherry producers first gained access to the Chinese market in 2013, and it is now one of Australia's most important export destinations for cherries, worth over $27 million in 2018–19, more than doubling the previous year's export worth.


    China's growing middle class provides a strong market for Australia's fresh fruit exporters, particularly a high-value fruit like cherries. However, China's regulations required costly and lengthy treatments to their crop prior to export, affecting the freshness of the cherries and hurting growers' bottom line.

    IMPROVING OUR ABILITY TO COMPETE IN CHINA

    In collaboration with the cherry industry, the Australian Government successfully negotiated the removal of barriers that were hampering exports to China. In November 2017 Australia signed a new agreement with the Chinese Government allowing improved options to make it easier and cheaper to export.

    The agreement meant growers could get fresher cherries to China by reducing treatment times from two weeks to a two hour procedure. Now growers can pick fruit in the morning, treat in the afternoon and have fresh produce on a plane the same day.

    Cherry Growers Australia President Tom Eastlake said, "This agreement has expanded access to an important market for Australian cherry growers. They can be more competitive with other cherry exporting nations, by getting cherries from harvest to Chinese consumers faster and more cost-effectively”.

    Cherry Growers Australia forecasts that exports to China could grow to as much as $50 million in future years as a result.

    "The willingness of Australian producers to export has never been higher," said Mr Eastlake.

    Cherries ripe for improved access to China
  • BRINGING A TASTE OF AUSTRALIAN SUMMER TO CHINA

    Australia's bounty of summerfruit—apricots, peaches, nectarines and plums—are now counted among the most popular products on Chinese supermarket shelves.


    This wasn't always the case. Despite significant tariff reductions under the China–Australia Free Trade Agreement, transport and lengthy post-harvest treatment requirements meant it was difficult and costly export fresh fruit to China.

    QUICK SHIPMENTS ALLOW EASIER ACCESS

    In November 2017, Australia and China agreed on updates to existing trade rules to enable new market access for Aussie peaches, plums and apricots.

    The new agreements allow transport of fresh fruit by air – a method previously excluded for some types of fruit – greatly decreasing the time from harvest to market.

    Bringing a taste of Australian summer to China
  • AVOCADOS A SUCCESS IN THE JAPANESE MARKET

    USING A NATURAL DEFENCE TO ACHIEVE MARKET ACCESS

    When exporting fresh fruits to Japan, growers must meet set biosecurity conditions, including treatments against fruit fly. Under international trade rules, countries have the right to use biosecurity measures for protecting plants and plant productsfrom pests and diseases.


    The Hass avocado is a special example of how a plant's natural characteristics can be used to meet the import requirements of Australia's trading partners.

    A TOUGH SKIN MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE

    Hass avocados have a textured, pebbly skin that deters some species of fruit fly—like Mediterranean fruit fly. This provides an advantage for Hass avocados grown in some parts of Australia, including Western Australia.

    Working in conjunction with industry over several years, the Department of Agriculture negotiated a protocol with Japan to successfully secure new access arrangements for hard-mature Australian Hass avocados.

    As a result, from January 2018, hard-mature, Australian Hass avocados grown in areas officially recognised as being free from Queensland fruit fly are able to be exported to Japan shortly after picking and packing, without having to undergo costly and time-consuming treatments.

    Avocados Australia Chief Executive Officer John Tyas said, "The protocol is a very workable one, so we congratulate the Australian Government and their Japanese counterparts."

    Avocados a success in the Japanese market
  • LENTILS PULSING IN BANGLADESH

    LENTILS IN DEMAND

    Australia's lentils are in great demand in many markets in Asia—particularly in Bangladesh, which accounts for almost a third of all Australian lentil exports. As a major grower and exporter of the high-value crop, in 2018-19 Australia exported more than $124 million of the pulse to Bangladesh.


    But up until 2017, Bangladesh required Australian lentils to undergo a costly and environmentally unfriendly food safety treatment before export. Australian farmers and industry identified this as a significant and unnecessary barrier to trade because of the strict quality control and high food safety standards already in place in Australia.

    IMPROVED MARKET ACCESS BENEFITS THE ENVIRONMENT

    In early 2014, Australia’s Agriculture department started discussions with Bangladesh to remove the unnecessary fumigation treatment. After three years of negotiations, the Bangladeshi Government changed regulatory requirements and issued the first import permit for Australian lentils.

    Since then, Bangladesh has continued to accept Australian lentils treated to approved Australian standards.

    YIELDING RESULTS FOR A POPULAR CROP

    Australian farmers consider this a significant achievement, particularly as demand for Australian lentils in Bangladesh continues to grow. By removing the unnecessary treatment, a significant compliance cost has been removed and the risk of delivery delays reduced.

    "This is a fantastic result for the local industry," said Pulse Australia CEO Nick Goddard. "Lentils are a popular commodity with our trading partners in the South Asia region and maintaining our access with Bangladesh secures a strong future for the industry."

    Lentils pulsing in Bangladesh
  • NEW LISTINGS OPEN UP MARKET FOR PRIVATE HIGHER EDUCATION PROVIDERS

    SEEKING EXPANDED ACCESS

    In 2018, more than 200,000 Chinese students pursued education opportunities in Australia, making a significant contribution to our classrooms, the community and the economy.


    For information about higher education opportunities, Chinese students gather their information from the highly-respected Chinese Ministry of Education overseas study website, known as the JSJ website.

    In 2015 there were already 105 Australian institutions (including public universities and TAFEs) on the JSJ website. However, until recently, Australian private higher education providers were not included on the website, facing a non-tariff barrier by their simple exclusion.

    LISTENING TO INDUSTRY

    During the course of China-Australian Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) negotiations, industry consistently raised the inclusion of private higher education providers on the JSJ website as a priority.

    Australian officials provided their Chinese counterparts with detailed briefing about Australia’s robust regulatory and quality assurance settings, in turn building the awareness and acceptance of the high quality of Australian education institutions in China.

    As a result, the Australian Government was able to negotiate the addition of 68 Australian private higher education providers to the JSJ website, substantially boosting Australia’s education profile within China.

    BOOST TO CHINESE STUDENT NUMBERS

    Following the additional listing on the JSJ website in 2016, Chinese student enrolments in private higher education increased by 5 per cent in 2017, and by 4 per cent in 2018.

    New listings open up market for private higher education providers
  • CANOLA STUDY MAINTAINS MARKET ACCESS

    BIOFUELING THE EUROPEAN UNION

    For many years, the EU has been a valuable market for Australian canola exports, which are primarily used for biofuel production.

    From 1 January 2018, the EU introduced a new greenhouse gas savings target for all biofuel source material—requiring Australian growers and exporters verify the low emission status of canola compared with fossil fuels, to ensure continued access to the EU market.


    INDUSTRY AND GOVERNMENT WORKING TOGETHER TO ACHIEVE RESULTS

    The Australian Oilseeds Federation and Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre commissioned the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to produce a country report to verify the level of greenhouse gas emissions for canola cultivation in Australia on a regional basis.

    The CSIRO report found that the entire lifecycle of growing canola in Australia—planting, fertilizing, harvesting and transport—produced approximately half the amount of greenhouse gases compared to fossil fuels.

    With the CSIRO report completed, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources worked closely with counterparts in the European Commission to ensure that Australia’s country report was accepted and endorsed to allow Australia’s trade in canola to the EU to continue.

    Australian Oilseeds Executive Director Nick Goddard said the potential implications if trade was disrupted were serious.

    "The EU market is too valuable to lose for Australian canola growers," said Mr Goddard.

    "In 2016/17, Australian canola exports to the EU were typically worth over $1 billion, with nearly all those exports being used for biodiesel production."

    JUST IN TIME

    In December 2017, Australia became the first non-EU supplier to have its country report on canola endorsed—just before the EU’s new greenhouse gas emissions target was introduced from 1 January 2018. This endorsement provided certainty to EU canola buyers and Australian exporters of continued access of Australian canola to the EU market.

    This also means that Australian-grown canola can continue to be part of the EU’s renewable energy mix into the future.

    Canola study maintains market access

NON-TARIFF BARRIER EXAMPLES

Unjustified trade rules can occur either at the border, where products or services are permitted to enter an overseas market, or behind the border, where products or services are traded within the overseas market.

Non-tariff barriers are generally less visible than a straightforward tariff. The government works closely with industry to verify the nature of barriers, evaluate options and discuss the benefits and risks of taking action. Here are some examples of non-tariff barriers, at the border and behind the border.

At the Border

At the Border

Importing country certification


Biosecurity requirements


Pre-Inspections


Border and customs delays


Product labelling and packaging standards

Behind the Border

Behind the Border

Red tape


Regulatory rules


Price controls


Local ownership rules


Foreign work requirements


Implementation of requirements


Data storage and privacy requirements

Australia’s action plan seeks to clearly define responsibilities, expectations and processes to help to improve outcomes when Australian businesses face non-tariff barriers.

To achieve this, we will seek to:

SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS FOR INFORMATION SHARING

Exporters have a right to know how the government is addressing concerns about barriers affecting their business and which areas of government are responsible. To determine our approach and set clear expectations, we will clarify roles and responsibilities across government and set out how we will share information with business in a timely, accessible and comprehensive manner.

BE UPFRONT ABOUT PROCESSES, CONSTRAINTS AND LIMITATIONS

Some barriers can be overcome by seeking information or clarifying requirements. Others are allowable under WTO rules and can take years to resolve depending on the nature of the barrier and the willingness of our trading partners to take action. Despite our best efforts, some may even be intractable. Government and business will maintain open and frank lines of communication to ensure all parties are clear on what is and is not possible.

REPORT REGULARLY ON PROGRESS AND OUTCOMES

To keep the business community informed on progress eliminating trade barriers, the government will make regular reports available to the public. When industry associations conduct analysis of barriers affecting their exports, government will report back on how action is being taken. Reporting and feedback will be provided to individual businesses reflecting their specific concerns, and in aggregate based on industry-wide trends.