Grass-fed beef exports to South Korea could soon receive a welcome boost in the form of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Australia and South Korea.
The beef industry has welcomed the news that the Australian government will work to secure the FTA, as negotiations on the topic had previously reached a stalemate.
According to the Beef Industry South Korea Taskforce spokesman Stephen Kelly, the US, Australia’s main competitor, already has an FTA in place with South Korea that will see the current 34.67 per cent tariff on beef being eliminated over a period of 15 years.
“Bilateral FTAs are vital for the advancement of the Australian beef industry, and there is none more important than South Korea, where the industry suffers significant and increasing tariff disadvantages compared to competitors who have already secured FTAs,” Mr Kelly said in an October 18 statement.
“This Australian industry has calculated that it will suffer a cumulative loss of $1.4 billion over the 15 years, unless Australia can secure a similar FTA with Korea.”
During the 2012-13 period, Australia exported a total of 137,695 tonnes of beef to South Korea, a haul worth A$704 million. The Australian market share of beef imports to the country was recorded at 54 per cent.
The establishment of an FTA is likely to have a positive impact for organic meat producers in Australia, as it will clear the way for more cost-effective beef exports to South Korea.
Currently, the US also remains one of the major markets for Australian lamb exports, with shipments to the country having increased by 8 per cent year-on-year in September.
Exports to the European Union, Papua New Guinea and South-East Asia also saw increases in the volume of shipments, according to an earlier release from Meat & Livestock Australia.