Australia’s agribusiness future – Government wants thought for food
Christopher Hewitt, Senior Associate
Gerowyn Schuster, Senior Lawyer
Australia’s Minister for Agriculture recently stated that “Australia’s future is one where we might not be a military superpower, we won’t necessarily be a superpower in other areas, but we will be a major Asian food power.” The Minister and the Government clearly see food, and agribusiness generally, as the next great frontier for the Australian economy and for international investment in this country.
All the ingredients are present for Australian agribusiness to thrive – fertile land; proximity to the enormous Asian market; expertise and technology; and willing domestic and international investors. Now the Government wants to develop a master recipe to best use all those ingredients.
During 2014, the Australian Government will prepare a “white paper” on the competitiveness of Australia’s agricultural industry, and on agribusiness trade and investment (“the White Paper”). A “white paper” is an authoritative policy document, prepared and published by a government to announce its plans in any specified area or industry. The White Paper – to be released towards the end of this year – will outline the Australian Government’s future policies for the Australian agribusiness industry.
The White Paper will be of critical interest to any business with an interest in the Australian food industry. Investors, business operators, and international traders will also be able to contribute to the process. In preparing the Agribusiness White Paper, the Government intends to consult with interested parties. On 6 February 2014 the Government released the Agricultural Competitiveness Issues Paper (“the Issues Paper”), which sets out the issues that will be included in the White Paper.
The Issues Paper invites interested parties to make submissions on a range of issues facing Australian agribusiness, including:
- the effectiveness of incentives for investment into Australian agribusiness;
- reducing or removing regulations that are ineffective and burdensome;
- enhancing agricultural exports from Australia, especially into Asian countries;
- opportunities for Australian agribusiness to gain access to new export markets;
- access to investment finance; farm debt levels; and debt sustainability; and
- improving the competitiveness of inputs to the agriculture supply and value chain, including irrigation, transport, storage and distribution infrastructure.
We encourage Australian and international businesses to take this opportunity to contribute to the development of the policies and regulations that will shape the commercial future of the Australian food industry. Formal submissions may be provided to the Agricultural Competitiveness Taskforce by 17 April 2014.
You can download a copy of the Agribusiness Issues Paper here and please contact us to discuss any submission you may wish to make to the Agricultural Competitiveness Taskforce.