Non-Tariff Barriers Explained

Non-Tariff Measures and Trade Barriers

Governments can apply their own rules and procedures to manage the flow of goods and services into their country. For example the Australian Government imposes regulations on importers to protect human and animal health here.

However, when these rules are not transparent, overly restrictive or arbitrarily applied they can become barriers to trade.

Cherries to China

New Rules Mean Fresher Aussie Cherries For China

Tapping into demand for quality fresh fruit

Australian cherry producers first gained access to the Chinese market in 2013, and it is now one of Australia’s most important export destinations for cherries, worth over $13 million in 2017–18.

China’s rising middle class demands fresh fruit, but to export to China some growers were still required to apply costly and lengthy treatments to their crop. This affected the freshness of the cherries and hurt growers’ bottom line.

Improving our ability to compete in China

In collaboration with the cherry industry, the Australian Government successfully negotiated the removal of barriers that were hampering exports to China. In November 2017 Australia signed a new agreement with the Chinese Government allowing improved options to make it easier and cheaper to export.

The new agreement means growers can get fresher cherries to China quicker—replacing a treatment that took over two weeks with a two hour procedure. Now growers can pick fruit in the morning, treat in the afternoon and have fresh produce on a plane the same day.

Cherry Growers Australia President Tom Eastlake said, "Australian cherry growers are set to record their largest crop this year, while export demand continues to soar."

"This new agreement will expand access to an important market for Australian cherry growers. They can be more competitive with other cherry exporting nations, by getting cherries from harvest to Chinese consumers faster and more cost-effectively".

Cherry Growers Australia forecasts that exports to China could grow to as much as $50 million in future years as a result.

"The willingness of Australian producers to export has never been higher", said Mr Eastlake.

Free trade agreements see grape exports soar

Government And Industry Secure Better Conditions For Table Grapes

Opening up new markets in North Asia

When Australia’s free trade agreements with North Asian trading partners China, Korea and Japan came into force in 2014 and 2015, they opened the door for significant growth in the region for Australia’s table grape growers by reducing tariffs in these new markets.

At the same time, some exporters to the Chinese market were faced with non-tariff barriers requiring table grapes to undertake expensive and lengthy treatments prior to export.

China—a collaborative effort

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and the Australian Table Grape Association (ATGA) have worked together to deliver cost-effective options to export Australia’s premium table grapes to our North Asia trading partners.

A new agreement was reached with China in November 2017 that has introduced a faster four-day biosecurity treatment—replacing a treatment that previously lasted for more than two weeks. The new agreement means fresh Australian grapes can now be delivered in shorter shipping times compared to Australia’s competitors—reinforcing Australia’s reputation as a premium quality exporter.

ATGA CEO Jeff Scott said the new arrangements with China are a "game changer" for the Australian table grape industry, predicting an increase of 20,000 tonnes to China over the next few years. "We estimate that with these changes to market access requirements, the value of the exports will be worth an additional $100 million to the industry," Mr Scott said.

Capitalising on opportunities

China isn’t the only new market opening up for Australia’s premium table grapes. In Korea and Japan, new export opportunities, combined with the elimination of seasonal tariffs and Australia’s geographical proximity, has led to major market inroads.

In 2018, the high quality of Australian grapes prompted Korean luxury retailer, Hyundai Department Store, to announce it would only stock Australian grapes.

Further, promotion in the Japanese market has increased the value of exports of Australian table grapes by almost 30 percent from 2017, to be worth over $39 million in 2018.

Mango sales to Korea are ripe for growth

Overcoming Barriers For Mango Exports To Korea

Challenges for Korean mango imports

When the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) entered into force in December 2014, mangoes grown in Australia qualified for special tariff rates.

Despite these improvements, Australia’s growers and exporters were restricted by Korea’s food safety laws from using common procedures to improve the shelf life of mangoes. This meant exporters were not able to make the most of the agreement.

Negotiating to remove trade barriers

To complement the tariff reductions in the free trade agreement, in December 2016 the Australian Government negotiated new trade rules with Korean authorities, allowing fresher, longer lasting mangoes into the Korean market.

Since then, exports of Australian mangoes to Korea have flourished, growing by around 35 per cent from 2016–17 to 2017–18 to be worth over half a million dollars.

Opportunity to grow through seasonal demand

Mango consumption has increased rapidly in Korea, and Korean consumers consider Australia’s unique varieties a premium product.

Manbulloo Mangoes Managing Director Marie Piccone said, "There’s strong demand for mangoes from all over the world in the Korean market and Australian mangoes have got a really significant place there."

Korea imported over $70 million worth of mangoes in 2017, making it an attractive market for Australian growers and exporters.

Non-Tariff Barrier Examples

Unjustified trade rules can occur either at the border, where products or services are permitted to enter an overseas market, or behind the border, where products or services are traded within the overseas market.

Non-tariff barriers are generally less visible than a straightforward tariff. The government works closely with industry to verify the nature of barriers, evaluate options and discuss the benefits and risks of taking action. Here are some examples of non-tariff barriers, at the border and behind the border.

At the Border

At the Border

Importing country certification

Biosecurity requirements


Border and customs delays

Product labelling and packaging standards

Behind the Border

Behind the Border

Red tape

Regulatory rules

Price controls

Local ownership rules

Foreign work requirements

Implementation of requirements

Data storage and privacy requirements

Australia’s action plan seeks to clearly define responsibilities, expectations and processes to help to improve outcomes when Australian businesses face non-tariff barriers.

To achieve this, we will seek to:

Set clear expectations for information sharing

Exporters have a right to know how the government is addressing concerns about barriers affecting their business and which areas of government are responsible. To determine our approach and set clear expectations, we will clarify roles and responsibilities across government and set out how we will share information with business in a timely, accessible and comprehensive manner.

Be upfront about processes, constraints and limitations

Some barriers can be overcome by seeking information or clarifying requirements. Others are allowable under WTO rules and can take years to resolve depending on the nature of the barrier and the willingness of our trading partners to take action. Despite our best efforts, some may even be intractable. Government and business will maintain open and frank lines of communication to ensure all parties are clear on what is and is not possible.

Report regularly on progress and outcomes

To keep the business community informed on progress eliminating trade barriers, the government will make regular reports available to the public. When industry associations conduct analysis of barriers affecting their exports, government will report back on how action is being taken. Reporting and feedback will be provided to individual businesses reflecting their specific concerns, and in aggregate based on industry-wide trends.