In a major coup Australia is set to begin live beef cattle exports to China for the first time, in a deal that may be worth up to $2 billion a year.
Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, announced a breakthrough in live cattle export trade negotiations with the world’s second largest economy.
The deal comes as Indonesia announced it would slash live cattle imports from Australia by 80 percent this quarter over the previous year.
Under the new China deal, Australia will export a modest 40,000 to 50,000 head of cattle a year, which could potentially build to one million in coming years.
The entire Australian export head count last year was 1.29 million worldwide, worth $1.3 billion.
Indonesia accounted for 56 per cent of all those exports.
Mr Joyce said Australian and Chinese veterinary authorities were in the process of formalising agreement on animal health certification requirements.
This would allow industry to begin to prepare the commercial and ESCAS arrangements to being live export trade.
New live export markets
Mr Joyce said he has signed the agreement of health conditions for trade of Australian feeder and slaughter cattle to China. It was now up to the Chinese Agriculture Minister Zhi Shuping, to sign and finalise the agreement.
“Over the past five years we’ve had a significant trade in breeder cattle with China, primarily for dairy heifers, Mr Joyce said. “Now, I’m pleased to announce we are a step closer to the commencement in trade in live slaughter and feeder cattle to China.
“Getting the groundwork right for any new market can take time, and now the industry can prepare to begin this trade.”
China is the seventh livestock slaughter cattle export market opened under the Abbott Government, adding to Lebanon, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Cambodia and Thailand.
Mr Joyce said when the agreement is formalised, exporters can begin working with importers in China to implement the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) and establish supply chains that meet those requirements.
He hoped the first head of cattle could be exported to China within months.