The latest Insights report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) confirms that our agricultural exports have remained strong during COVID-19 despite supply chain and logistics disruptions.
“Analysis of Australian agricultural trade and the COVID-19 pandemic” released today (5 June) finds that the agile government and industry response to rapidly changing market conditions has been key to ensuring Australia’s strong trade profile.
ABARES co-author and chief forecasting and trade Dr Jared Greenville said this positions Australia well to take advantage of opportunities during the post-pandemic global economic recovery.
“The supply chain and logistics disruptions seen in the early stages of the pandemic are benefiting government and industry responses, and despite the risks, overall export performance has remained strong,” said Dr. Greenville.
“While seafood exports experienced a significant decline in February 2020, March saw a slight rebound in the value of crustacean and molluscan exports.
“The government moved quickly to establish the International Cargo Assistance Measure.
“We have seen government and industry respond to the challenges of the job, for example by extending visas and allowing farm workers to stay longer with an employer.
“It is important to note that the government has guaranteed the continuity of services that facilitate trade, such as certification, accreditation and other regulatory services, to ensure that exports and imports continue to flow.
“Live animal exports are a point of watch as the pandemic evolves, as demand from Indonesia and Vietnam declines, but export values remain above the five-year average. “
Greenville said that although the pandemic precipitated a global economic downturn, it was unlikely to have a significant impact on demand for essential food items.
“This persistence of demand was observed during the global financial crisis, when agricultural trade remained stable,” Greenville said.
“But not all products in agriculture, forestry and fishing are essential.
“As economic activity declines and global incomes shrink, products consumed through more discretionary spending have been more significantly affected.
“These include high quality food for cafes and restaurants. These effects were seen for seafood, where the epidemic in China is estimated to have caused export earnings to drop by around $ 200 million in 2019-2020. “
The pandemic is also causing some changes that will likely be part of the future business landscape.
These include the evolution of consumers buying more online, increased demand for stable and safe food, increased awareness of supply chain risks, increased use of systems of digital commerce and the risk of rampant protectionism.
“The outlook for the recovery of Australian agricultural trade is good,” said Dr Greenville.
“Australia’s agricultural sector and business profile have a long history of adapting, changing and growing in the face of external challenges and pressures.