2016 Spring - Can Australia’s biosecurity standards survive in a free trade era?

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FPJ1303E - Adamson, D (2016), Pandora’s Box and the Level Playing Field: Food Safety and Regulations

FPJ1303E - Adamson, D (2016), Pandora’s Box and the Level Playing Field: Food Safety and Regulations, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 13, no. 3, Spring 2016, pp. 33-41, Surry Hills, Australia.

Australia is internationally regarded as providing a source of safe food. Australian trade policy has long chased the ideal of the level playing field, to allow our natural comparative advantage in food production to be fully realised. A central component of the Doha Round of trade talks was to tackle agricultural subsidies and protectionism, but these talks have not reached consensus since starting in 2001. To negate this stagnation, countries including Australia have engaged in a series of side agreements.
However, these deals extend well beyond the notion of providing additional market access for agricultural producers, as they are designed to increase economic integration between the signatories. To encourage integration, these treaties are examining ways of harmonising the rules of business within the signatories.
If Australian regulations are different, and we are known as providing a source of safe food, is there any risk associated with adopting new regulations? This article provides a discussion on the role of regulations in Australia, and explores the possible consequences for Australian food exporters from adopting new and more relaxed regulations.

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