Current horticultural market access issues in Thailand
MR BALMER: Hello, it's Bryan Balmer speaking to you from the DPI office in Thailand.
Thailand has become a very important market for Australia and Victorian horticultural products, and for commodities like table grapes, cherries and citrus, it's in our top two or three most important markets.
There are many reasons why Thailand has grown to that level of importance, but probably one of the most important is the free trade agreement that was signed in 2005. This has meant that almost all horticultural products coming into Thailand are now tariff free, and it's given a significant advantage over our competitors in the southern hemisphere.
Thailand is a member of the WTO, and therefore it is expected to comply with international trading expectations. And, in 2007, they advised their trading partners they would be revising their Plant and Quarantine Act, and were asking their trading partners to submit market access submissions for all horticultural products being exported to Thailand.
Australia submitted 28 submissions for 32 commodities, and the process started in about 2008.
So as not to disrupt trade, Thailand provided transitional arrangements, which meant that existing trade with products that we traded over the previous five years could continue under existing conditions, and therefore it shouldn't disrupt trade. And, those transitional arrangements were put in place while protocols were being negotiated.
Up until the end of 2011, protocols have been successfully completed for seed potatoes, for citrus, and for table grapes. And, in 2012, work will commence and complete on apples, pears, avocados and strawberries. Unfortunately, a visit that was expected to take place in 2011, which would have finalised the process for summer fruit and cherries, was unable to take place, and as of early 2012 that protocol is yet to be determined when it will be completed.
In 2012, Thailand also is negotiating with a number of its other trading partners on plant and quarantine issues, and they'll be working with the USA, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand - all quite large trading partners with Thailand.
So, the Thai Planning and Quarantine Authority have a large program of business this year, and that, from my point of view, highlights the fact why Australia in government and in industry bodies, need to be well prepared for their negotiations in 2012.
This is Bryan Balmer in Bangkok.