New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show horticulture exports have grown significantly over the past decade into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), making it one of Australia’s strongest trade partners.
Across all goods and services, ASEAN is currently a ‘top three’ trade market in terms of value, behind China and Europe.
Horticulture, which includes vegetables, fruits, nuts and fruit juices, has grown by a compound annual growth rate of 12 per cent a year and, based on the 2016 figures, is valued at $632 million.
Fruit and nuts have seen a growth of over 50 per cent since 2015, now accounting for $407 million in exports.
ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. While China remains Australia’s top export market, Austrade says businesses are still enjoying success in this region.
“Contributing factors vary but would include positive economic growth, demographic change with growing incomes and improved market access into ASEAN,” Austrade economist, Divya Skene said.
Co-ordinated marketing and promotional activities such as the ‘Australia Now! In Season’ campaign may also play a role in increasing the appetite for Australian horticultural products.
Austrade says two-way trade with Southeast Asia is an important part of the partnership with the region, and in 2015–16 Australia bought more goods and services from ASEAN than the United States—only China and Europe ranked higher.
The horticulture sector has reflected that relationship with imports of horticultural products growing at a rate of 11 per cent a year over the last decade, and valued at $423 million in 2016. The strongest import growth rate has occurred in the category of fruit juices followed by prepared or preserved fruit and vegetables.
Export growth is seen right across the agriculture sector with other popular items including crustaceans, wheat and beef, each of which have recorded growth of over 20 per cent a year over the last decade. It is more than 33 per cent CAGR (compound annual rate of growth) in the case of wheat and crustaceans.
ASEAN is the top destination for Australian outward direct investment in Asia, but it still trails the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, suggesting there is potential for greater investment.
The 2016 Australia’s International Business Survey found that ASEAN was equal to China as an important expansion target, with just over 15 per cent of respondents expecting ASEAN to be their most important new revenue source over the next two years, slightly ahead of China.
“With a basket of drivers ranging from economic prosperity through to demography, the promise of greater economic policy co‑ordination and infrastructure linkages within the region, ASEAN offers Australian businesses diverse growth prospects close to home,” Ms Skene said.