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EU expansion boost for lobster exports

WESTERN Australia’s rock lobster industry has welcomed next month’s accession of eight countries in Central Europe to the European Union.

The move will create the world’s largest trading bloc, bigger than the US, Japan and Canada combined.

The WA rock lobster industry, which has been pushing for increased access to the EU, is one of the State’s largest exporters of food.

Last financial year the industry accounted for more than one third of WA’s total food exports ($1.03 billion), yet only about 2 per cent of WA’s rock lobster went to the EU.

Western Rock Lobster Development Association chairman Tony Gibson described the accession as a “a huge boost” and said it would add “another dimension” to lobster trade with the European market.

The industry has been trying to break its dependence on the huge Asian market and recently won a three-year tariff concession from the EU.

Austrade economist Tim Harcourt said the large new consumer market was also good news for many other Australian exporters.

Aside from food the move would create opportunities for Australian companies in consumer goods, wine, IT, education, tourism and technology products, as well as companies in areas that will arise through the changes in privatisation and competition, Mr Harcourt said.

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia will join the EU on May 1 creating a trading bloc bigger than the US, Japan and Canada combined.

Mr Harcourt said under EU requirements the countries have been forced to undertake radical changes to their social, legal, regulatory and economic frameworks.

Meanwhile, representatives from the western rock lobster industry are in in Brussels at the European Seafood Expo this week to discuss commencing live and chilled lobster exports to the EU.

Little live and chilled lobster is exported to the EU despite it attracting a higher price than frozen exports.

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