The Cattle Council of Australia recently returned from a trip to Paraguay as part of the International Beef Alliance (IBA).
The IBA includes the national beef bodies from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Paraguay and the United States.
Each year it visits one of its member nations for farm tours and discussions surrounding beef policy, including marketing and market access, animal health and welfare, traceability and sustainability.
With numerous challenges confronting the global trade environment, the Alliance reconfirmed its commitment to trade reform and liberalisation, sustainable beef production and ensuring confidence amongst global beef consumers – principles which are vital to all members (who represent over 60 percent in volume of all global beef trade).
Despite gains secured by various IBA members over recent years, trade in beef remains highly protected globally, primarily through the use of tariffs / quotas and the increasing use of trade restrictive non-tariff barriers.
In this regard, World Trade Organisation (WTO) members are strongly encouraged to reduce or eliminate the use of trade distorting agricultural subsidies (amongst other trade enhancing measures) at the forthcoming WTO Ministerial in Argentina in December 2017.
The use of these domestic subsidies continues to significantly disadvantage efficient agricultural producers.
Alliance members also reaffirmed their shared interest in ensuring that all regional and bilateral free trade agreements are of high-quality and genuinely liberalise trade.
The Alliance encourage respective governments to continue efforts to conclude trade agreements currently under negotiation.
Discussion reflected concern over the unknown effect of the Brexit process on global beef and protein markets. IBA members strongly encourage both the EU and UK to consult jointly with all WTO members during this process. Outcomes which cause trade diversions, distortions and restrictions should be avoided.
On non-tariff barriers (NTB), the IBA was unanimous in calling for alleviation of unscientific and unjustified impediments. Members committed to exchanging insights and working collectively, where appropriate, in removing NTBs which impose unwarranted costs on value chains.
In addition to trade, the IBA is an important vehicle for sharing information about broad policy developments and consumer trends, to ensure that beef remains positioned globally as a premium and preferred protein.
The membership also reinforced the importance of local and global initiatives to ensure sustainable beef production. IBA believes actions taken domestically should improve the environmental and social aspects of their beef production systems and also promote rural economies.
Members are committed to explore opportunities for greater collaboration in this area into the future, and safe guard compliance with local legislation.
The next annual meeting of the IBA will take place September of 2018 in Canada.