Australian blueberries have been added to a new priorities list for horticulture market access to China.
Contrary to reports from some media outlets, the agreement does not immediately open up access for Australian blueberries in the People’s Republic. Instead, the application for blueberries will progress after the existing access priority for Australian mainland apples.
The new agreement builds on market access achievements delivered under a ‘four and four’ agreement signed between the two countries in 2006, which prioritised negotiations by considering each nation’s top four horticulture market access requests.
The previous agreement has supported access for Australian table grapes, cherries and nectarines in China, with progress being made on other stonefruit categories – peaches, plums and apricots.
“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," said Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce.
"The new agreement will commence following completion of summerfruit protocols under the previous four and four agreement.”
During last month’s International Blueberry Organisation Summit in Qujing, delegates heard about the enormous promise China shows as a blueberry market, with local production and imports developing at a rapid rate.
The Asian nation imported 5,339 tonnes of blueberries between January and June 2017, up 42 per cent on the same time last year, according to China Customs data. All of this supply came from Chile.
The opportunity to capture market share was not lost on Assistant Minister to the Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Luke Hartsuyker.
“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,” Hartsuyker explained.
"Identifying and making use of these new opportunities will help support the ongoing productivity and profitability of the Australian blueberry industry."