Trade gain to support Aussie meat exports to the UAE

27 May 2017

A major technical barrier to trade that is estimated to have cost industry up to $60 million per year has been lifted in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), through the extension of the accepted shelf life for Australian vacuum-packed beef and sheep meat.  

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, welcomed this breakthrough as an excellent result for Australian farmers, exporters and the entire industry. Michael McCormack, Minister for Small Business and Member for Riverina, also saw it as a great result for the Riverina region as home to highly-regarded beef and sheep abattoirs.  

Mr Joyce said The Nationals, as a part of the Coalition government, would continue to champion more and expanded global trade opportunities as a key plank in making agriculture more profitable.  

“The UAE is Australia’s biggest market in the Middle East for agricultural exports, with sheep meat and beef worth $295.8 million to our bottom line,” Minister Joyce said.  

“The increased shelf life, from 90 days to 120 for vacuum-packed beef meat and from 70 days to 90 days for sheep meat, will give the industry more flexibility, drive down freight costs and increase demand when sending Australia’s premium products overseas.  

“The Coalition Government has been working with industry, particularly Meat and Livestock Australia, to advocate for an increased shelf life for meat by providing the commercial and scientific justification to satisfy the UAE.  

“This is another in a long line of market access wins for Australia.

“The UAE is a sophisticated importer and re-exporter of food products and a food distribution hub for other markets in the region.  

“Shelf life remains a trade barrier in other Middle East countries, with a total cost to industry of up to $86 million each year.  

“We will use the UAE’s leadership and reputation to push for change in shelf life in other countries in the region”.  

Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack, said the Coalition Government is doing all it can to drive profits back through the farm-gate, on the back of the opportunities presented by trade deals and market access gains we have secured.  

"Australia produces some of the world's best agricultural goods, which has helped us maintain a significant share of valuable import markets like the UAE, and ensures stronger farm-gate returns for our farmers,” Mr McCormack said.  

“This is a real breakthrough for small business, for farmers and livestock producers in the Riverina and other regions of the country, with NSW alone exporting $349 million worth of fresh, chilled and frozen lamb in 2016, and one I’m pleased the Coalition Government has had a role in this process.”  

The Coalition Government invested $30.8 million in the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper to improve access to premium markets.  

This included five new agricultural counsellors, including one in Saudi Arabia, to give Australian producers better access to premium overseas markets, tackle technical barriers to trade and expand into emerging markets while maintaining and strengthening Australia’s position in existing markets.  

Fast facts

  • In the agriculture portfolio since January 2016, more than 40 key market access gains or restorations of markets have been achieved, and more than 45 key market access improvements or actions to maintain market access.

  • Key trade and market access achievements are listed at

Dom Hopkinson