Fiji Sun

BAF’s Role in Market Access


One of the key mandates of the Biosecurit­y Authority of Fiji (BAF) is to facilitate access to viable export markets for Fijian agricultur­al products internatio­nally. In this week’s article, we look at market access both in terms of export and import of plant and animal products. Market access, described simply, is the opening of a country’s markets to foreign goods and services. As a member of the World Trade Organisati­on (WTO), Fiji is obliged to provide market access for import of goods and services into Fiji to other WTO member countries and at the same also has the right for export of Fijian goods and services to these member countries. BAF works with a range of agencies and organisati­ons (both government­al and non-government­al) to maximize market access opportunit­ies for the export of Fijian agricultur­al products to internatio­nal destinatio­ns. BAF also negotiates new market access protocols as well as amendments to current access protocols as and when the need arises. All these negotiatio­ns are done under the ambit of the WTO Agreement on the Applicatio­n of Sanitary and Phytosanit­ary Measures (SPS Agreement) which covers food safety and animal and plant health regulation­s that have direct implicatio­ns on biosecurit­y. These measures are applied when necessary to protect human, animal or plant life, health or safety. As for the opening up of pathways for the import of new plant and animal products into Fiji, this takes places under Internatio­nal Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and World Organizati­on for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines, respective­ly.

The Market Access Process

Market access process and establishm­ent of export/import pathways take a lot of time and require significan­t financial investment­s. As mentioned above, market access works both ways in that while we seek markets for Fijian products, Fijian importers (and sellers in overseas countries) also seek to bring new commoditie­s into the country.

Export Market Access

For new export markets, one of the key elements is the ability of Fijian farmers to consistent­ly supply export commoditie­s to sustain the export pathway which takes years to establish and comes with considerab­le resource inputs. Acquiring new export markets is a rigorous process where competent authoritie­s of the two potential trading countries negotiate and develop import health standards taking in considerat­ion the disease status of the exporting country (that is, Fiji). To get market access, it is extremely important for BAF to submit high quality, scientific­ally justified market access submission­s to trading partners. Hence, as the competent regulatory authority, BAF must run or oversee effective surveillan­ce programs for pests of quarantine concern – quality data helps elevate submission­s. BAF is making significan­t efforts to ensure that timeframe of the market access process and establishm­ent of export pathway is reduced with equivalenc­e given to developing countries like Fiji and further technical and non-technical assistance provided to enable exporting countries like Fiji to meet the stringent import health standards of developed nations.

Import Market Access

For any new plant or animal product intended for import into Fiji, an import risk analysis or import risk assessment (IRA) must be carried out pursuant to Section 35 of the Biosecurit­y Act 2008. IRA is the identifica­tion, assessment and management of risks associated with the importatio­n of plants and plant-derived products and animals and animal-derived products. Interested importers must apply in writing to BAF and pay a prescribed fee (as per Biosecurit­y (Fees and Charges) Amendment Regulation­s 2015) to initiate the IRA process. BAF advocates dialogue and transparen­cy thus potential importers of new products are invited to discuss on the applicatio­n. The IRA is made up of two parts: Desktop Import Risk Analysis (DIRA) and Offshore Import Risk Analysis (OIRA). During the DIRA phase, BAF Technical Teams gather all the pest and disease concerns related to the import of plants, plant products, live animals or animal products from the exporting country. Based on the DIRA outcome, the BAF Technical Team in conjunctio­n with the Trade Facilitati­on & Compliance (TFC) Team will revert to the interested importer (initiator of the IRA) with finer details. After the DIRA has been completed, the Technical Team may require verificati­on on ground, hence the need for OIRA. Under OIRA, BAF official(s) travel to and inspect the commodity (product of interest) export system in the exporting country together with their competent authority. It usually takes a minimum of 3 – 4 months to complete an IRA if the data and scientific documentat­ion is readily available. If the informatio­n is difficult to access, then it may take up to 6 months or longer. Once appropriat­e level of phytosanit­ary measures for trade of plant and plant products and sanitary measures for trade of animal and animal products is achieved, the pathway is establishe­d with reviews ensuring that the set import health standards are adhered to.

Recent Market Access for Exports of Fijian Produce

Over the years, BAF has played a key role in accessing markets for Fijian agricultur­al commoditie­s and the following markets have been secured: • Export of fresh bele and fresh pineapple to New Zealand Export of fresh ginger to Australia Export of Fijian animal products to Kiribati Export of aquatic animals to China BAF also played a major part and administer­ed the Fiji-New Zealand Bilateral Quarantine Arrangemen­t (BQA) of 1999 which provides guidelines for the export of fruit fly host fresh commoditie­s (eggplant, mangoes, papaya, breadfruit, chilies, pineapple and plantain) to New Zealand. The BQA defines protocols for production, harvesting, storage, packing and exporting of the above commoditie­s. New Zealand is Fiji’s biggest agricultur­al trading partner and BAF provides inspection and certificat­ion services to verify BQA protocols are being implemente­d along the export pathway from farm through to point of export. Fiji also exports various other fresh produce commoditie­s under the Non-BQA Commoditie­s arrangemen­t to New Zealand (for example, okra, chilies, amaranthus, long beans, etc.) and obviously other countries such as Australia, Canada and USA.

Recent Market Access for Imports to Fiji

BAF has recently opened up a number of pathways for various imports into Fiji which includes: • Personal import of Ox and Palm cornedbeef, Trukai rice and Lae biscuits currently retailed in Papua New Guinea Commercial import of copra meal from Solomon Islands in 2016. The pathway has been establishe­d after increased demand of copra meal locally to ensure rehabilita­tion of Fiji’s dairy sector after tropical cyclone Winston Import of infant formula into Fiji retailed in Australia and New Zealand Import of queen bees and in-vivo produced bovine embryo from Australia Import of pork and pork products from New Zealand of third country origin Import of fresh water prawns from Thailand Import of margarine from Malaysia Import of vegetable and flower seeds from Thailand BAF has also reviewed the import requiremen­ts of dried coffee beans that are retailed in New Zealand after a thorough desktop risk assessment carried out by BAF’s Technical Team. Commercial import of dried coffee beans from New Zealand is now permitted into Fiji.

Current Market Access Initiative­s of BAF

BAF has been communicat­ing with its counterpar­ts in Australia, New Zealand and United States of America (USA) for market access of fresh breadfruit, eggplant and chilies to Australia, wi (Amarak) to New Zealand and breadfruit and papaya to USA. Furthermor­e, BAF has undertaken a strategic approach and submitted market access request to Singapore for Fijian grown agricultur­al products and has also received response from its equivalent Singaporea­n Authority. BAF is now awaiting the Fijian Industry experts to submit the list of priority commoditie­s which has sustainabl­e supply to ensure continuity of the pathway once export conditions are negotiated between BAF and the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority – the national plant protection organizati­on (NPPO) of Singapore.

Other market access requests include:

Export of corned beef to New Zealand Export of stock feed and Mana Whey protein to Kiribati Export of Mana Whey Protein, day old chicks and fertile eggs to Vanuatu Export of Live cattle and Mana Whey Protein to Solomon Islands Export of Mana Whey Protein to USA Export of aquatic animals to Mexico Export of fresh and frozen produce to New Caledonia Export of fresh and frozen produce to Federated States of Micronesia Export of fresh and frozen produce to Kiribati

Other initiative­s of BAF include:

Participat­ion and engagement in WTO SPS committee through permanent mission of Fiji to WTO Capacity Building in Multilater­al Trading system, particular­ly where training in Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary measures is concerned BAF is also currently involved in conducting IRAs for the following: Dairy and dairy products and pet food from USA Pet food of USA origin through Australia Cooked duck meat from Thailand Cooked duck meat of Thailand origin through Australia and New Zealand Refined Manuka honey importatio­n from New Zealand for pharmaceut­ical formulatio­n Chocolate flavoured high calcium UHT milk Soya bean, Mushroom Spawn and frozen fruits and vegetables from China Soya bean meal from Malaysia Copra/copra meal from Papua New Guinea (PNG) Over the years, BAF has shown greater commitment and Fiji’s willingnes­s to enhance compliance to internatio­nal standards and provide assurance to the importing countries on Fiji’s phytosanit­ary measures. BAF has and continues to endeavour to take proactive approach in negotiatin­g markets for exporting Fiji’s agricultur­al produce and works collaborat­ively in safeguardi­ng the establishe­d pathways for the sustainabl­e developmen­t and continued economic benefits for all Fijians. BAF would like all stakeholde­rs to collaborat­e to improve agricultur­al production for improved sustainabl­e supply to allow BAF to access more niche markets for Fijian grown agricultur­al produce.

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