Australia’s livestock producers may soon benefit from increased competition for feeder and slaughter cattle and improved farmgate returns following the opening of another new market, Thailand.
The imminent opening of the trade was alluded to in Beef Central by South East Asian Market correspondent Dr Ross Ainsworth on Monday.
The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council envisages Thailand could take 30,000 cattle in the first year of exports, and says the market has excellent prospectors for growth, which is good news particularly for northern Australian producers.
Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the opening of the Thai market for trade in Australian live feeder and slaughter cattle represented a significant new export opportunity for Australia’s livestock producers and further proof of the Coalition Government’s commitment to Australian agriculture.
“This is the fifth market we have opened this year and I expect the trade will bring mutual benefits to both our countries and will contribute to maintaining and strengthening our bilateral relationship with Thailand,” Minister Joyce said.
Thai and Australian government authorities recently reached agreement on animal health certification requirements for live feeder and slaughter cattle, providing the foundation for trade to occur.
“Strong commercial interest both here and in Thailand provides good prospects that this trade will result in significant numbers of live cattle being sent.
“Now it is over to exporters to establish Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) arrangements to support appropriate animal welfare outcomes in this new market.
“Under the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement, signed by the former Howard Government in 2004, tariffs on feeder/slaughter cattle dropped to zero in 2009 so the establishment of health protocols represents the removal of a significant impediment to this trade.
“What this also shows is that this government is capable of not only signing free trade agreements, but building on them and delivering benefits in the long term.
“The opening of the Thai trade shows that the future for Australian beef and cattle is strong and I want to reassure our primary producers that we remain committed to our election promise to reinvigorate the trade and expand market access for our $1.4 billion livestock export industry.”
The first live cattle exports to Thailand are expected to commence in early 2015.
ALEC welcomes Thai protocol
The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council said Australian welcomed Mr Joyce’s announcement of an agreed health protocol with Thailand for Australian feeder and slaughter cattle.
“Australian exporters have a history of exporting breeder cattle to the Thailand but have long sought access for feeder and slaughter cattle to the market,” ALEC CEO Alison Penfold said.
“As an efficient producer of cattle, Thailand is a major exporter of red meat to near markets and the wider region.
“More recently, the growth in demand and increased rates of meat consumption across the region has seen the Thai cattle herd shrink, thus creating the commercial opportunity for
Australian livestock exporters and producers, particularly those in the north.
“Our assessment is that the agreed protocol will support exporters to realise the commercial interest in Thailand for Australian feeder and slaughter cattle subject to the establishment of ESCAS supply
chains and development of commercial arrangements.
“Interested exporters are now expected to formalise assessments of suitable feedlots and abattoirs – including 3rd party independent audits – and where necessary invest in training and infrastructure
improvements to ensure facilities meet the required welfare standards.
“Subject to normal commercial factors, industry estimates that exports of cattle to Thailand are likely to reach 30,000 head in near years.”
Ms Penfold said that the last 18 months had been a particularly active time for industry and the Australian Government in finalising health protocols.
“A key ingredient to realising the true potential of Australian livestock exports is continuing market access improvements – both to new and existing markets.
“Industry through LiveCorp and the MLA/LiveCorp Live Export Program have worked with the Australian Government to establish or renegotiate a range of health protocols across the live export
“As part of the protocol negotiations, Australia has hosted a number of technical delegations including a Thai delegation in September this year.
“The negotiation process across a wide range of markets and species is a mammoth task for all concerned and on behalf of ALEC I extend our particular thanks and appreciation to the staff
involved in the Department of Agriculture’s Animal Biosecurity and Live Export teams as well as industry staff in LiveCorp and MLA.
“We also wish to extend our thanks to the Minister’s Joyce and Robb for their enthusiastic and energetic efforts to open new markets to Australian agricultural products, including livestock. Not
only does this provide commercial benefits to supply chain participants including producers and service industries but also enable Australian exporters to export new infrastructure and equipment,
and export better handling and slaughter practices to the world.”
CCA welcomes news
In a statement issued minutes ago, the Cattle Council of Australia said the cattle industry applauded the government’s announcement of an agreed health protocol for Australian feeder and slaughter cattle with Thailand.
“The live cattle trade provides market opportunities for Australian cattle producers and the opening of this market represents the fifth live export market since the Coalition came into government,” CCA president Howard Smith said.
“The finalisation of health protocols with Thailand represents another avenue for Australian producers to choose the best possible market for their cattle. The more markets available to producers, the more competition there will be for their cattle which should have a positive effect on prices,” he said.
“Breaking into new markets does take time, so we look forward to working with ALEC to help producers take advantage of this opportunity” Mr Smith said.
Source: Minister for Agriculture, Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council
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