The Australian government laid another plank in its re-election strategy with a $102.4 million plan to transform Australia into a food exporting heavyweight, ninemsn reports this week. Prime Minister John Howard said the plan, to start in July 2002, would help Australia to become a significant global player in food trade, along with more structural trade reforms being pursued internationally. "The treatment of agricultural products in world trade continues to discriminate very unfairly against Australian producers," he told the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) annual meeting. "It's not easy, but we continue to punch very hard on Australia's behalf both at international meetings and on a bilateral basis." Agriculture Minister Warren Truss said the trade in processed food was growing twice as fast as that of raw materials and had a trade surplus of $9 billion a year. "If we're going to be significant players internationally, we've got to grow (grow) where the action is," he said. Other commitments include: $12.4 million to establish centres of research excellence in food technology; $34.7 million in matching grants for firms' R&D programs; $17.1 million to expand market access programs; $5.3 million for a nationally coordinated export approach; and $15.6 million to help build better supply chains.