China could import up to one-quarter of the nectarines produced in Australia next year, as local growers plan to expand into the Chinese market with the lowering of trade tariffs.
Australian-grown nectarines and peaches, both types of summerfruit, will be on their way to China as of Jan. 1 next year, and industry bosses have hailed the introduction of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) for opening the market.
It's the first new export market for the Australian stone-fruit producers in more than two decades, and will lead to lower domestic fruit prices.
"Access to this market will deliver very practical and commercially viable export opportunities to Australian nectarine producers," Louise Van Meurs, the first assistant secretary of Australia's Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Monday.
"The implementation of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) means that from Jan. 1 2017, Australian nectarines will face a tariff of only four percent in China, down from 10 per cent prior to entry into force of ChAFTA."
John Moore, Chief Executive Officer of Summerfruits Australia, said the agreement would help the entire industry -- not just the main producers.
"It's really going to blow the industry apart, and the mum and dad (smaller scale) fruit growers will get better prices on the domestic market," Moore told the ABC on Monday.
China is expected to purchase up to 15,000 tons of Australia's nectarines -- or about 25 percent of the market -- according to Moore.
Moore said the nation's produce quality had improved by changing the way they attacked Queensland and Mediterranean fruit flies, helping to make the stone fruit more attractive to overseas buyers.
"This time it's separated, we've got a treatment for med-fly and treatment for q-fly, and it's really opened up the doors," he said.
The stone-fruit exports will join other Australian fruits, including citrus, table grapes, mangoes and Tasmanian cherries, to be exported internationally.