Australia ratifies CPTPP

Joining five other nations, Australia’s commitment has triggered a 60-day countdown to tariff reductions
On 31 October, Australia became the sixth country to ratify its position in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11, and also known as the CPTPP).

Joining Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Singapore in the first group to ratify the agreement means a majority sign-on triggers a 60-day countdown to the first round of tariff cuts.

The first tariff cuts under the agreement will enter into force on 30 December 2018. A second reduction will occur three days later on 1 January 2019.

For Australia, tariff reductions to Mexico are expected to benefit the horticulture sector, and the broader agriculture industry will see improved access.

Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, and Vietnam are also part of the agreement, but are yet to ratify their positions.

ExportNZ executive director Catherine Beard is pleased by the ratification and looming tariff reductions.

"CPTPP brings Japan, Canada and Mexico into a trade deal with New Zealand for the first time. These countries have large markets that will now become progressively open to New Zealand goods and services, improving New Zealand’s trade earnings,” she said.

"Other country members of CPTPP will now also offer terms of trade more favourable to New Zealand exports.”

The New Zealand government expects items like buttercup squash into Japan to become tariff-free; onions to Japan to have tariffs removed within the next six years; and tariffs in other countries to be eliminated on a number of items like cherries, radish, carrot seed, kiwifruit, and avocado.

Source: Author: Camellia Aebischer 

Produce in firing line as US sparks trade war

The EU, Canada and Mexico consider retaliatory measures in response to US tariffs on steel and aluminium imports
The US has announced the imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the EU, Canada and Mexico, prompting fears of a protracted and damaging trade war.

Almost immediately after president Donald Trump’s announcement, the Mexican government issued a statement announcing that it would impose equivalent measures on various US imports including apples, table grapes and cranberries.

The measures would remain in effect until the US government eliminated the import tariffs, the Ministry for the Economy said.

The latest trade data available from ITC suggests that, of the three products, the US apple export trade would stand to lose the most from a Mexican tariff hike.

Mexico is by far the largest importer of US apples, with sales worth US$276.5m last year, compared with US$174.3m in Canada and US$97.4m in India.

Mark Powers, president of the Yakima, Washington-based Northwest Horticultural Council, said the move was expected to cause substantial damage to the industry.

Mexico is the third major market to impose tariffs on Washington apples as a result of US trade policy on steel and aluminium this year.

Last week, India announced plans to put a 30 per cent retaliatory tariff on US apples – on top of the 50 per cent tariff that they are already subjected to, while in China US fruit imports have faced a 15 per cent hike in tariffs since 2 April.

Sales of US fresh apples to Mexico may have declined slightly in recent years, but last year they were 21 per cent up on the previous campaign.

Meanwhile, fresh cranberry exporters in the US have seen the value of their business in Mexico increase considerably over the past few years, albeit from a low starting point. According to ITC, Mexican import sales rose by 30 per cent to just under US$1.27m between 2013 and 2017.

As for table grapes, the value of US sales to Mexico fell by 2 per cent to US$97.2m during 2013-2017, although ITC noted a 26 per cent increase in 2017 compared with the previous campaign.

WTO case opened

The EU, meanwhile, has confirmed it is opening a case at the World Trade Organisation in response to the new US duties, with EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström expected to announce retaliatory "proportionate" tariffs on US exports including cranberries "in accordance with WTO rules".

Federica Mogherini, the EU high representative on foreign policy, told journalists: "The European Union will today proceed with the WTO dispute settlement case adding those additional duties on a number of imports from the United States. The European Union measures will be reasonable, proportionate and in full compliance with WTO rules and obligations.”

The decision by the White House was dubbed “patently absurd” by the UK’s international trade secretary, Liam Fox, who suggested the UK would be prepared for “tit-for-tat” moves. “We absolutely do not rule out counter measures,” he asserted.

When the initial threat of tariffs was raised by the US back in March, the EU pledged to retaliate with tariffs on American imports such as orange juice, cranberries and bourbon.

“Logically, these unilateral measures on steel and aluminium will lead to multiple counter reactions around the world, and for sure they will be challenged within the WTO,” said Philippe Binard, general delegate of European fresh produce association Freshfel Europe.

“The EU has already published a list of potential retaliatory measures that will be effective from 18 June, including on orange juice, cranberry juice and sweet corn. Elsewhere in the world, retaliatory measures may include increased taxes on US fresh fruit and vegetables.”

The question, according to Binard, is whether or not the US will remove its measures on steel and aluminium in order to avoid triggering such a response.

Additional reporting by Mike Knowles and Maura Maxwell


Author: Tom Joyce

Canadian investor acquires Aussie avocado operation

Pension plan purchases leading West Australian producer as it seeks long-term investments in “well-managed" properties
Canada's largest single-profession pension plan has acquired one of Australia’s largest avocado growers.

The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan completed the purchase of Western Australia’s Jasper Farms late last year.

Based in Busselton, Jasper Farms is Australia’s second-largest avocado producer, with a harvest spanning the country's spring and summer months from August to February.

“The acquisition of Jasper Farms underscores Ontario Teachers' mandate to seek long-term investments in well-managed, producing agriculture properties to meet the growing global demand for food,” said Andrew Claerhout, senior managing director of infrastructure and natural resources at Ontario Teachers'.

The deal comes after Chinese-based Shenzhen Kondarl told the Shenzhen stock exchange in March last year that it was close to finalising the purchase of Jasper Farms.

At the time of Shenzhen Kondarl’s announcement, Jasper Farms owner Neil Delroy confirmed the business was being offered to both overseas and local investors by Ernst & Young, but denied a deal had been struck with the Chinese firm.

Neil and his business partner Ian Delroy said they were extremely happy with the sale.

“We are very pleased that Ontario Teachers', a long-term investor with solid asset stewardship and a good cultural fit for the business, has chosen to expand its Australian agribusiness investments through the purchase of Jasper Farms," Neil and Ian said in a release.

"Through a focused approach to excellence, technology, proven systems and leading research and development, over the past 13 years our team has built a world class avocado business that we are exceptionally proud of."

Ontario Teachers' holds a diverse global portfolio of assets, valued at CAD$180.5bn (A$180.7bn) as of 30 June 2017.

The defined-benefit plan, which is fully funded, invests and administers the pensions of the province of Ontario's 318,000 active and retired teachers

Source: Author: Matthew Jones

Citrus industry surprised by growth in unfamiliar new markets of Philippines, Canada


The peak body for Australia's citrus industry says it has been taken by surprise by the success of two formerly "non-existent" markets that have leapt to become among its top export destinations.

Canada and the Philippines are now in the top 12 export destinations for Australian citrus, each consuming nearly 6,000 tonnes of fruit a year.

Market access manager with Citrus Australia, David Daniels, said the growth is exciting, particularly as the Philippines economy continues to grow.

"A few years ago those markets were almost non-existent," he said.

"I can't say why that is, but certainly in the Philippines we've put a lot of effort in marketing and working in partnership with the Victorian Government and AusTrade to do point-of-sale material and work with their supermarkets.

"We never really thought it would happen this quickly or we would see such substantial volumes.

"In my first trip to the Philippines I didn't think we'd do much more than a handful of containers per year. Six thousand tonnes is quite a surprise."

Business news publisher Forbes placed the Philippines is the second-fastest growing economy in east Asia, second only to Lao and ahead of China, in its March analysis.

Mr Daniels said now that Australia has a strong foothold in many markets the challenge is for growers to produce fruit tailored for foreign consumers.

"It really is about growing to market requirements and knowing what the end consumer wants," he said.

"What size fruit, what grade, how sweet they want it. And there are certain cultural practices.

"The good growers are doing that already, they are growing their crops specifically for a market and have been doing that for the last 20 years."

Source: ABC Vic Country Hour. Author: Emma Brown

Image: Orange Pixabay_Hans