A new agreement recognising US and Australian food safety and regulatory systems as “comparable” will benefit exporters from both countries, the Australian government has said.

Greg Read, the head of exports at Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR), said yesterday (18 April) the “reciprocal” agreement on food safety would put exporters “in a significantly stronger position as preferred suppliers of safe, high-quality food to the US.

Read said the agreement signed by the DAWR and the US Food and Drug Administration “will result in fewer in-country audits – with compliance being managed by the exporting country”.

Read said “not all foods” are covered by the agreement, “but most canned foods, seafood, dairy products, fresh fruit and vegetables, fruit juices, confectionery, baked goods and pet food are in scope”.

“These preferential processes will encourage trade between our two nations that can only be good news for our farmers and growing their profits,” Read said.

However, Read added: “Just as Australia does, the US continues to regulate foods such as meat, egg products, shellfish and dietary supplements and more stringent requirements continue to apply.”

Read said the agreement “is good for our businesses, as it positions Australia as a safe source of food supply for the US market that will place our exporters in a position of benefit compared with other exporting countries that don’t have this agreement”.

A USDA spokesperson could not be contacted by just-food for comment about the impact of the agreement for US firms.