How Increased Access to the Chinese Food Market Will Boost Australia’s Export
It has been a challenging time for the Australian economy recently, after the economy shrank by 0.5% during the third financial quarter of 2016. This was far below the already pessimistic forecasts published by economists, while it also represented the steepest decline since the financial crash of 2008.
Since then, the economy has wavered further, with a significant decline in exports having contributed to a loss of more than $2 billion from Australia’s trade surplus. Imports have also risen at a disproportionate rate, with usually secure commodities such as gold and coal no longer able to provide economic relief for Australia as a whole.
The Challenge Facing Australia, and How Exports Such as Beef Can Help
With total exports having slipped by 3% at the beginning of 2017, and traditionally popular products no longer in such high demand, the economic outlook for the second quarter has appeared bleak in the eyes of economists. An unlikely saviour may have presented itself in the form of beef exports, which have recently been bolstered by an unexpected change in policy from Chinese lawmakers.
More specifically, China officials have announced that they intend to increase market access for chilled meat products, with Australian farmers and producers likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of such as policy. After all, beef remains Australia’s largest agricultural export, having accounted for 19.9% of the total market share as recently as 2015. With other, chilled meat products accounting for 8% of the nation’s agricultural export market, Australia has been presented with a unique opportunity to make huge gains within these sectors.
While the precise, economic impact has yet to be determined, it is thought that the number of processors permitted to send chilled, refrigerated and vacuum-packed beef cuts to China will more than treble over the course of the next 12 months (and beyond). With the exports of this commodity already worth $400 million a year, Australia could see the market transform into a billion-dollar entity in the near-term future.
Not only this, but a growing number of Australian processors will also be able to export frozen beef to China, creating the potential for further market expansion over time. This continues a promising trend that began when the Chinese Free Trade Agreement reduced tariffs on Australian beef back in 2013, although it represents a major development given that the chilled beef market has remained a major sticking point in ongoing negotiations.
The Last Word: A Huge Stride for the Australian Export Market
In terms of basic numbers, a joint-statement released by Chinese and Australian officials confirmed that the number of processors allowed to export chilled beef will initially rise from 10 to 36. Beyond this, it is thought that a further 15 pending approvals will be fast-tracked, taking the number to 50 and laying the foundations for further increases over time.
This represents a huge stride forward for Australian besieged economy, and particularly an ailing export market that has seen global demand for gold and coal decline significantly in recent times. The potential rise in beef exports will certainly negate some of these losses, particularly as it extends to a wider range of processors and expands to include frozen beef and additional meat products too.
This news has come at the right time for Australia, while it also reinforces the importance of the food and agricultural export markets as a whole.