Australia is set to expand live cattle exports to China after signing a deal that will boost its access to surging Asian demand.
A feeder and slaughter cattle health protocol was signed on Monday, the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council said in a statement on its website. While the agreement defines the necessary health and preparation conditions for cattle, commercial agreements need to be finalized, it said. Australia is the world’s third-biggest beef and veal shipper.
China’s beef imports grew more than tenfold since 2010 as consumption increased, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Australian Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said last week he was working toward signing an agreement with an unidentified country after Indonesia cut its import quota by 80 percent. China last year said it will reduce import tariffs across a range of Australian agriculture products including beef and dairy as part of a free trade agreement.
“This matches the strong commercial interest from Chinese customers to fill existing and purpose-built feedlots and abattoirs developed to help satisfy hungry consumer demand for red meat,” Alison Penfold, Chief Executive Officer of the council, said in the statement. “The true potential of the China market is something exporters are very keen to explore with a steady stream of quality cattle as soon as possible.”
Beef is Australia’s most valuable agricultural export. Shipments are poised to climb to a record in 2015 as persistent drought increases slaughter, according to Meat & Livestock Australia.