Exported flowers explained

Exports of Australian grown flowers began in the late 1980s. Since then, Australia has become a major participant the expanding global cut flower market, exporting niche flower products.

Australia’s exports mostly consist of natives such as waxflower, kangaroo paw, and banksias as well as protea. These varieties are immensely popular among overseas florists and customers. China alone buys as many natives as Australia can supply.

In FY2020, the official value of cut flowers exported from Australia was about AU$8.4 million. This figure may be higher, depending on data capture and reporting methodologies.

Australia’s main export markets are Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Korea, the USA, Canada, and Europe.​

Local wildflower growers rely on the export market for a large portion of their income because the Australian market is too small to achieve any scale and prices are sensitive to oversupply.

Exports of plant product are overseen by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment which administers the Export Control Act 2020. The department creates rules to control exports, which encompass plant product and other agricultural proscribed goods such as fruit and vegetables.

See Plant Export Operations Manual and Plant Exports Management System (PEMS) for more information.

Export country requirements

  • Many of the countries Australia exports to require a Phytosanitary Certificate and practice nil tolerance of insects.
  • New Zealand is the only country (other than Australia) that requires mandatory devitalization treatment of imports.
  • No importing country has mandatory fumigation on arrival. Insect inceptions are treated with methyl bromide in all countries.
  • No importing country requires full entomology identification prior to onshore treatment

AFTA’s position

  • AFTA supports imports and exports of cut flower and foliage and establishing an optimal operating environment that protects Australia’s biosecurity status.
  • Biosecurity measures are in place to facilitate free trade, while also protecting Australia’s horticulture and agriculture sectors.
  • Australia is a signatory to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) whose goal is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible. The WTO develops international standards for Pest risk analysis and National Plant Protection Organisations and dictates that quarantine cannot be a barrier to trade.
  • Australia is therefore duty bound to ensure quarantine measures are proportionate and based on science.
  • Bilateral trade relationships are important to both Australian exporters and importers and we should expect that terms of trade and biosecurity for imports and exports should be consistent.
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