India opens doors to Australian dairy exports

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 4th March 2009

Australian milk products can be exported to India for the first time since 2003, after years of detailed negotiations by the Australian Government.Minister for Trade, Simon Crean, and Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Tony Burke, have welcomed the news, believing it will present an outstanding opportunity for Australian dairy producers.

Australian dairy exports to India were worth around $6 million annually in 2003, including milk powder concentrate and lactose, and that is expected to grow once trade recommences in the near future.

The dairy industry is also expected to gradually seek a share of other imports such as cheese, which is currently worth $4 million and growing at 100% per annum.

Dairy desserts such as ice cream will be another key dairy product of high-value.

Several Australian exporters have expressed a keen interest in exporting dairy products for human consumption to India, the Federal Government advised.

The announcement follows the Indian Government’s approval of a new system for the health certification of Australian milk products developed by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service. Trade had ceased in late 2003 when India changed its import requirements.

Mr Crean said the reopening of trade was symbolic of the strengthening agricultural relationship between Australia and India and the benefits of on-going cooperation on bilateral trade issues.

“India’s changing demographics-particularly its growing middle class and urbanisation-is creating real potential for the trade growth and Australia is well placed to provide high-value dairy products,” he said.

Mr Burke added that Australian dairy producers were under pressure from factors including global input prices and the falling farmgate price, meaning the announcement represented a rare piece of good news.

“This will be a great opportunity for the industry at a time when Australian dairy producers have been going through a difficult period,” he noted.

The breakthrough in India follows the signing of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement last week that will deliver better access for Australian dairy farmers to a South East Asian market with more than 600 million people.