The Papua New Guinean Government has instituted a ban on the import of selected Australian fruits and vegetables, including potatoes, effective from August 11, 2015.
The Department of Agriculture has advised the ban is based on Papua New Guinea’s desire to support domestic producers of vegetables.
Australian fresh vegetable exports to the Papua New Guinea market were worth $3.8 million to the Australian vegetable industry in 2014-15.
“Australian vegetables have been exported to Papua New Guinea without major issue for a number of years and it has been a relatively stable market in recent times. This is concerning given the unexpected nature and timing of the announcement,” said AUSVEG National Manager – Export Development, Michael Coote.
AUSVEG is working with all relevant parties in an effort to resolve issues posed by this sudden announcement.
“The main vegetables that are affected by this ban include a range of staple lines including onions, carrots, potatoes and tomatoes, along with other vegetable commodities such as capsicum, lettuce and celery among others,” said Mr Coote.
Australian vegetables command a price premium in export markets and in Papua New Guinea these vegetables were destined for the retail sector and expatriate-staffed industries such as mining settlements.
The timing of this ban coming into effect will impact Queensland growers as they are currently in season, with southern producers likely to be affected later in the season.
The announcement comes on the back of relatively good news for the industry with latest figures showing total vegetable exports increasing to over $270 million in 2014-15, up 5.7 per cent on the previous year, with some markets showing substantial growth. The loss of any export market, due to technical or non-technical trade barriers, increases pressure on Australian growers due to the difficult conditions in the domestic industry.
The Department of Agriculture has advised it is working with its Papua New Guinea counterparts to have the bans removed as quickly as possible, however these restrictions will remain in place until future protocols with exporting countries are established.
AUSVEG is committed to its activities in the field of export development and opening new markets for Australian vegetable growers.
Vegetable industry export development activities are funded through Horticulture Innovation Australia using vegetable levy funds and matched funds from the Australian Government.