Australia and New Zealand maintain a special, close economic relationship and a strong, shared interest in biosecurity. This year’s Australia–New Zealand Biosecurity Cooperation (ANZBC) meeting highlighted the importance of biosecurity to each economy’s post-COVID economic recovery. Both nations committed to working more closely together to advance shared interests in enhancing the productivity and success of our agriculture sectors and securing the best possible outcomes for our respective environments. We reiterated the importance of enhanced data and information sharing, innovation and technology advancement in threat and risk assessments to make biosecurity systems smarter and more adaptable to new challenges and opportunities.
The meeting achieved key outcomes in relation to:
- collaborative work in capability building in the Pacific region
- continued efforts towards mutual recognition of border clearance work and development of a framework for more alignment in plant biosecurity
- continued collaboration on joint risk and threat management
- reviewing and updating our principles for trans-Tasman trade in animal and animal products
- supporting secondments to facilitate harmonisation of approaches to third country verification activities
- continued development of new technology and innovation, including progressing work together on cargo non-compliance detection technology and trialling remote screening capabilities to mitigate biosecurity risk before it reaches our border.
A highlight of the meeting was the signing of the Export Plan for Fresh Produce from Australia to New Zealand Agreement – a long-awaited and significant milestone for both counties. Australia welcomed the signing, thanking New Zealand colleagues for their efforts in enabling recognition of Australia’s export assurance system, enabling the horticulture export processes for the benefit of both nations.
The ANZBC’s three technical working groups presented on other key achievements, with progress made on joint initiatives, including:
- continued collaboration to manage brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) as a common biosecurity risk under the Offshore BMSB Treatment Providers Scheme
- signing of cooperative arrangements on the use of electronic certification (‘eCert’) for trade in primary products to enable the progression of paperless trade for several commodities.
Looking to the future, senior officials identified a range of opportunities – some immediate, some longer term – to continue to learn from one another, and on which to work together for the benefit of both countries’ biosecurity and trade. Therefore, the ANZBC intends to shift to a more strategic focus, holding more regular meetings and finding practical approaches to progressing priority work.
Established under the Australia – New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement in 1999, the senior officials-level Australian and New Zealand Biosecurity Cooperation (ANZBC) provides the impetus and direction for harmonising animal and plant health measures affecting trade between the two countries and opportunities to strengthen the dialogue on trans-Tasman biosecurity issues.
Australia hosted this year’s annual ANZBC meeting virtually on 19 November 2020. Officials from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries exchanged views on strategic challenges, current issues and emerging changes and discussed post COVID economic recovery as well as opportunities for increased bilateral cooperation and collaboration.
The next ANZBC meeting will be hosted by New Zealand in late 2021.