Representing our agriculture sector overseas

Daryl Quinlivan - headshot  By Daryl Quinlivan, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

With around two-thirds of our total agricultural production exported around the world, Australia’s foreign policy is an essential factor in the continuing and fast-growing success of our agricultural sector. This is one of the reasons the government is currently developing a Foreign Policy White Paper, which will provide a roadmap for advancing Australia’s agricultural interests overseas and define how we engage with the world in the years ahead.

One of the ways we assist our agricultural sector to maximise opportunities overseas is though our network of 16 agricultural specialists and 26 locally engaged staff, working at Australian missions in 16 countries across the globe. Five of these positions were established in Vietnam, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, China and Thailand in January 2016 as part of the implementation of the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

These specialists are key contact points between our department, Australian exporters, our major trading partners and international organisations (including, among others, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).

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Australia’s overseas agricultural specialist network extends to Bangkok, Beijing, Brussels, Dubai, Hanoi, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, Rome, Riyadh, Seoul, Taipei, Tokyo and Washington. Image credit: Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

They assist in developing and maintaining markets for our agricultural exports. They also provide technical expertise to support the Australian Government’s free trade agreement agenda and they play a key role in getting the most out of our free trade agreements. For example, our representatives in China work to ensure that our farmers can make the most of the China–Australia Free Trade Agreement, giving our producers preferential market access over international competitors.

Our overseas specialists organise and lead discussions, exchange information and facilitate visits and inspections to resolve trading problems and progress market access requests. The network supports the Australian Government’s efforts to reduce non-tariff measures that are barriers to trade.

Since January 2016, the network has assisted in gaining access to, or restoring, more than 45 key markets and has improved or maintained market access in excess of 50 key markets. This year, our specialists helped Australian producers to improve or gain market access for their exports to Pakistan (chickpeas), Iran (wheat and split broad beans), Cambodia (breeder cattle), and Bangladesh (lentils).

We’re pleased to be working across government on the forthcoming Foreign Policy White Paper to strengthen the important contribution that Australia’s agriculture industries make to our economic prosperity, and the prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.

For more information about the role of the overseas agricultural specialists, visit


Daryl is a career public servant who was the Head of Office at the Productivity Commission before his appointment as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in 2015.

Daryl has worked in a number of agencies including the Department of Transport and Regional Services and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and also served as an adviser to the then Assistant Treasurer.

Daryl previously worked in the then Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry from 1999 to 2010, as both a Deputy Secretary and First Assistant Secretary.

Following this, he joined the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy as a Deputy Secretary before moving into the position of Head of Office at the Productivity Commission in 2012.

Daryl holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from Monash University and a Bachelor of Economics from the Australian National University.



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