Can­berra, Bei­jing to ink deals on beef, en­ergy

New Straits Times - - Business -

SYD­NEY: Aus­tralia and China are ex­pected to sign new bi­lat­eral agree­ments on beef ex­ports, en­ergy and se­cu­rity dur­ing a four­day visit by Chi­nese Premier Li Ke­qiang that be­gan yes­ter­day.

Li was wel­comed to Par­lia­ment in Can­berra by Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull amid ex­tra se­cu­rity in the cap­i­tal in the wake of an at­tack out­side Bri­tain’s Par­lia­ment.

Aus­tralia is seek­ing to take advantage of China’s de­ci­sion ear­lier this week to sus­pend meat im­ports from Brazil due to a scan­dal over sales of rot­ten and sal­mo­nella-tainted meats.

Aus­tralia, how­ever, may have lit­tle scope to in­crease meat ex­ports as its cat­tle herd is lan­guish­ing near a two-decade low.

Gra­ziers were forced to cull cat­tle in record num­bers fol­low­ing a drought in­duced by an un­usu­ally strong El Nino weather sys­tem be­tween 2014 and last year.

Beef is among Aus­tralian agri­cul­ture ex­ports to China that were worth more than A$8 bil­lon (RM27.02 bil­lion) last year.

They have been pro­pelled by the wide-rang­ing China-Aus­tralia Free Trade Agree­ment signed in 2015, ce­ment­ing China po­si­tion as Aus­tralia’s largest trad­ing part­ner.

“We be­lieve that to re­solve trade im­bal­ance we need to con­tinue to ex­pand trade. That is the solution. We can­not close our doors,” Li said in Can­berra. Reuters

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