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'Trade deals touted as big wins for growers have not improved market access'

Australian cherry grower: ‘No improvements have been delivered’

Cherries might be in abundance across the Central West, but growers have been facing significant challenges when it comes to exporting fruit, orchardist Tom Eastlake from Young says. Cherry Growers Australia president Mr Eastlake said non-tariff trade barriers had been the most pressing issue for the mainland industry for more than two decades.

He said free trade deals touted as ‘big wins for cherry growers’ had in fact delivered no improvement in market access for mainland growers who faced export restrictions due to pest concerns. quoted Eastlake as saying: “Those free trade deals didn’t do anything for us. It is wonderful to have those agreements but we can’t use them because we don’t have any access. Tariffs are a hurdle when it comes to trade but there are ways to get around them. But non-trade barriers will actually stop you trading.”

Eastlake said marketing cherries in Australia was ‘a tale of two industries’. “Tasmania has wide ranging market access due to its fruit fly free status,” he said. “They have market access to Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Japan and the US – all because of their pest free status.”

Until last year, when mainland growers gained access to China, they were unable to export to any of the nations currently open to Tasmania. Eastlake said growers were now able to access China but had to fumigate their fruit, making the market less attractive.

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