[10 April, 2015, ABC Rural] The ABC has published an article by Anna Vidot, dated 10 April 2015, titled, US Farm Bureau looks to TPP to streamline biosecurity, cut tariffs and tackle unfinished business from past agreements.

Below is an abridged version of the article.

Lower tariffs and better market access are common goals for farmers in any free trade negotiation.

But the US farm lobby is also looking to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to deliver a streamlined, science-based approach to dealing with biosecurity regulations around the Pacific rim.

The American Farm Bureau says the TPP, currently being negotiated by 12 countries including Australia, Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia, will include a chapter on sanitary and phytosanitary issues…

“Our fruit and vegetable people were very concerned that when there’s some kind of a tie up at the import level, product can go off quality very quickly while there’s a dispute. So we’re trying to get a rapid response mechanism to solve small issues and not have everything be a full blown dispute while you’re trying to get your imports in.”

The TPP hasn’t yet been locked down, and it’s not clear what any sanitary/phytosanitary chapter may eventually say, but the Farm Bureau believes it’ll be less about specifics and more about the approach countries should take to quarantine disputes and issues…

“There’s a chapter in the TPP that’s being discussed now just on that subject.”

That’s something Australian horticultural producers and exporters can relate to all too well.

This year, Vietnam banned the import of all fresh produce from Australia citing concerns about fruit fly. And in recent years, as Asian countries have shifted from unregulated market status to requiring compliance with additional sanitary and phytosanitarty regulations, Australia has also lost markets including Thailand and Taiwan.

On the other hand, Australia’s high quarantine standards and slow risk assessment processes have been cited as a problem by other countries, which keen to export their produce here.

But Australia has consistently maintained its approach to biosecurity is science-based, and the Australian Government has said it will not do a deal that compromises the nation’s comparatively pest- and disease-free status…

*** To read the unabridged and original article, click here.