The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia
PACKAGING AUSTRALIA'S EXPORT FUTURE
Address by The Hon Alexander Downer, MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
to the Packaging Council of Australia's Australian, Packaging Awards Dinner,
Melbourne, 16 October 1996.
Mr Vaughan, ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you for inviting me to present the Australian Packaging Awards tonight.
It is a real pleasure to do so, for two reasons.
First, because the packaging industry is contributing strongly to Australia's
economy, and particularly to its export future. With an annual output of
$8 billion, and employment of about 50,000, your industry makes a major
contribution to the Government's goals of increased prosperity and jobs
at home. As a vital contributor to the food export industry, which is worth
$13 - 14 billion a year, packaging has a strategic role in one of Australia's
most important export sectors.
The second reason why it is a particular pleasure to be here tonight is
that I have a good story to tell about the Government's commitment to helping
you improve your export performance.
The potential is immense: Asian countries alone are likely to be importing
more than $83 billion in food products by the end of the decade. It is the
objective of this Government to help you maintain and improve the competitive
edge you need to win a proper share of that potential against ever-increasing
At home in Australia, the Government's policies of budgetary discipline
and reinvigorated microeconomic reform will reduce your costs, increase
your business flexibility and free you from unnecessary red tape. I believe
the packaging industry will particularly welcome improvements in labour
costs and practices, lower handling and freight costs, and more efficient
Overseas, the Government is working hard to open up market access for Australian
product. It is acutely aware that your industry is particularly affected
by barriers to trade in agriculture, and by non-tariff barriers like labelling
The Government is tackling such barriers at the bilateral level through
representations to individual governments. We are also working at the regional
level through APEC, which is working towards mutual recognition of food
standards. And at the global level we work through the World Trade Organisation,
in which negotiations on agriculture and product standards are two of Australia's
All this is done in close consultation with industry, because it is industry
which creates the winning products and achieves the export sales.
That is the rationale of the Government's "Supermarket to Asia"
initiative, which brings together all links of the food industry from paddock
to the consumer's plate. The fact that the Prime Minister chairs the "Supermarket
to Asia" Council shows how committed we are to this initiative. And
we are delighted that the packaging industry will be represented so effectively
on it - by Garry Ringwood of AMCOR.
Let me conclude by saying that the quality and innovativeness of the awardees
tonight convince me that your industry is set to contribute powerfully to
Australia's export future. I am particularly encouraged by the strong performances
by the student awardees - for they are our future in the long term.
I look forward very much to making the individual presentations.