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Efficient export certification makes Australia globally competitive

Australia’s export industries continue to show unanimous support for vital reforms to cut red tape and increase efficiency – the biggest planned reforms in this area in a generation.

A $40 million package of Rudd Government funding would help to make the export certification process more efficient, cut red tape and improve market access.

The process of certifying agricultural produce for export is in desperate need of modernisation, with an outdated IT system and a heavy reliance on paperwork, rather than electronic processing.

Both AQIS and industry systems need to be updated.

After announcing the $40 million package, the Government established six industry taskforces covering the red meat, grain, horticulture, live exports, fish and dairy sectors.

These taskforces have been working to determine how the reform funds could best be spent to achieve maximum benefits for each separate industry.

Examples of the reforms sought by industry include:

- new regulatory arrangements which would allow audits to be carried out remotely, by accessing a company’s data electronically. Under the current system, an auditor could be required to drive to the company site to access company systems. The new remote system would save time and money;
- increasing the use of electronic processing, rather than inefficient paperwork. Under the reforms, more than 89% of the 330,000 clearance certificates to be issued next financial year would be done electronically;
- Grains could be cleared for export much earlier in the process. Previously they were cleared at the last minute, which meant exporters had to pay demurrage costs if the loading of a vessel was delayed due to clearance issues.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke said if the Senate supported a disallowance motion against new export certification fees, the reforms would also be blocked.

“I have been meeting with various Senators today in the hope of keeping the reform process alive,” Mr Burke said.

“If the new export certification fees are disallowed, we will be left with a $103 million black hole in our biosecurity budget over the next two years.

“This would put an end to the vital reform program, because that money would be needed to help fill the funding hole instead.

“We made this $40 million package available to industry to help ensure our export sectors can compete on the world stage.

“Each industry then has control over the extent to which it continues to subsidise certification and the extent to which it delivers efficiencies and reform.

“Over the eight years of the 40% subsidy, there was no major reform – instead, red tape and inefficiencies were simply tolerated, undermining Australia’s global competitiveness.”

by S. C.
15 september 2009, World News > Oceania