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Mildura citrus grower becomes face of free trade
With the Australian citrus industry set to boom with the recently concluded agreements with Korea, Japan and China, come into force, Ms Chapman, the Citrus Australia chair and 2012 Victorian Rural Woman of the Year, was considered a great choice to demonstrate how Australian businesses are already benefiting from the trade deals.
Ms Chapman and her family are well-known in the Mildura community as owners of the 350-acre Colignan Park citrus orchard.
Since the Chapmans bought the property in 2004, the citrus producer now employs up to 60 staff at a time. Each year, Colignan Park produces around seven thousand tonnes of navel oranges, depending on annual climatic conditions.
While Australian citrus is currently exported to at least 35 countries around the world, trade data from 2014 showed the great potential for further growth, with around 20% of importing countries not yet buying Australian citrus.
"In Australia we grow too much citrus for domestic consumption,” Ms Chapman said.
“So we need to always focus on exports, and the free trade agreements are going to make exporting into North Asia much better for us to get into."
Ms Chapman is optimistic about the markets opening up, particularly in China, and has planted new strains of oranges specifically for the Chinese market.
The China Australia Free Trade Agreement, signed in June, will see all tariffs on Australian citrus exported to China, including an 11% tariff on oranges, eliminated over an eight year period.
"In 2012, we weren't able to get any citrus in the front door of China, so we set a little goal for ourselves that we would get 20,000 tonnes into China by 2020," Ms Chapman said. "Last year, we achieved 18,500 tonnes. But with the export trade agreement, we hope to see 40,000 tonnes by 2020. Who would have ever thought a citrus grower from Mildura would have been able to capitalise on free trade agreements with Korea, Japan and China? I know I certainly didn't!"
The China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) will see tariffs of up to 30% removed from all fruit, vegetables and nuts, most over the next four years.
"The free trade agreements have given us the confidence to invest in new varieties, such as the Kirkwood Navel," Ms Chapman said.
The "Open for Business" campaign, introduced by the federal government in close consultation with Austrade and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, aims to encourage small and medium business owners to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the new Free Trade Export Agreements.
As well as electronic, print and digital advertising, the campaign will include North Asia FTA Information Seminars across the country, a grants program, an FTA portal incorporating a sophisticated tariff finder, and offshore promotional activities to traders and investors by Austrade and other agencies.
For more information on the campaign and to see a collection of video case studies outlining Australian opportunities and benefits under the Free Trade Export Agreements with Korea, Japan and China, visit www.openforbusiness.gov.au.
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