With the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) now enjoying legislative support, the way is open for Australia’s seafood industry to pursue new opportunities in and through the United States.
An early step in securing benefits from the FTA will be discussions through Austrade with a peak US seafood importer.
Australian Seafood Industry Council Chair, Bob Pennington, said the new lead had been opened up during discussions between Austrade and the US group, Red Chamber, with Trade Minister Mark Vaile, in June.
Austrade had now advised the industry there was significant potential for new access to the American “white tablecloth” sector which included hotels, retail and caterers.
Mr Pennington said the Australian industry also had an eye to the likely establishment of an Austrade presence in Miami, Florida, which created opportunity for new access to cruise liner trade.
“The key to success will be differentiation of quality Australian product against our competitors in these markets, backed by the enhanced competitiveness under the FTA.
“It is simply too early to put a figure on this potential gain, but it represents a further opportunity to expand Australia’s seafood sales across our export markets,” he said.
ASIC welcomed passage of the enabling FTA legislation through the Australian Senate, after protracted negotiations.
“The timing is now right in that our seafood exporters have an added degree of certainty as they plan for the next five months, leading into a start-up date for the FTA of 1 January 2005 and the abolition of all 48 US tariffs on our product,” Mr Pennington said.