Are Australia and China Close to Closing a Billion Dollar Cattle Deal?

By Frazer Jones
If inside sources are correct, Australia could be on the verge of closing an export deal that would have the country sending a million cattle to China...

If inside sources are correct, Australia could be on the verge of closing an export deal that would have the country sending a million cattle to China — a deal valued at around a billion Australian dollars.

Business Review Australia reports that the million cattle would not be exported to China all at once. Rather, it would be a deal executed over time, with 30,000 to 50,000 heads of Australian cattle sent to China each year. While China has always been a valued purchaser of Australian beef and dairy cattle, the finalization of this long-term deal would strengthen ties and increase commerce further between the two countries. Some Australian officials see the potential deal as a beneficial thing, like government frontbencher Christopher Pyne who is heralding it as a breakthrough:

“I mean this is the kind of thing that happens when you have a government that's focused on economic outcomes,” Mr Pyne told Channel Nine. “So we have a Free Trade Agreement with Japan, Free Trade Agreement with South Korea, working on one with China.”

 

With that said, not all Australian politicians share the same optimistic view of the deal:

“I recently called the Federal Government a pack of sadists when it comes to animal welfare,” [independent MP Andrew] Wilkie said in a statement. “Turns out evil death cult would have been a better description as far as the live animal export trade is concerned.”

 

Opposition leader Bill Shorten also cautioned that the government has only announced the benefits of the deal, while keeping quiet on any of the potential costs to the livestock industry and Australian voters.

Nevertheless, the deal has the preliminary support of Australian agricultural lobby groups like Agforce, who are excited about the potential of a new market to open up during a period of struggle for the industry. As BR Australia adds, Agricultural Minister Barnaby Joyce is especially optimistic about the deal — though he cautions against getting too excited before the deal has gone through, as nothing is set in stone yet:

"The tricks of dealing in Asia is you don't pre-empt their decision, you let them make it and then you celebrate it," Joyce shared with Lateline. "We have a massive up-swing from when we came to government to [where] we are now in the price of beef.”

 

The compact could be finalized the 2014 G20 Summit, scheduled to be held in Brisbane on November 15 and 16.

 

[SOURCE: Australian Broadcasting Corporation via Business Review Australia]

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