China cattle exports dampened
Australia’s hopes of capturing a huge market for live slaughter cattle in China have been dampened because of tough and expensive protocols required by the Middle Kingdom.
Despite early hype about the huge opportunity available to Australia when the two countries signed a historic free trade agreement in 2015, slaughter cattle shipments to China have ground to a standstill.
RuralCo chief executive Travis Dillon said its live export company, Frontier, made three shipments to China from Australia during the past financial year, but had no other plans in the pipeline. “The China market has been very slow to take off and the protocols of exporting cattle into China make it difficult and expensive at both ends,” he said.
“When the opportunity presents we will be keen to do that, but in the meantime will remain focused on Indonesia and Vietnam.”
Harmony Agriculture managing director Steve Meerwald recently said he would put cattle exports to China, originally the main focus of the company, on the back seat and instead focus on domestic processing. Wellard also has no explicit shipments to China scheduled, despite the prospects of this market last year being the linchpin of its recovery plan.
Wellard head of China initiatives Kanda Lu said a major obstacle was a requirement to slaughter the whole shipment within 14 days, creating operational pressure and marketing uncertainty for the importer.
He said the whole industry was appealing to the Chinese Government to start feeder cattle imports and to remove this requirement. Additionally, imported cattle still attract 11 per cent value added tax.