Chinese Free Trade Agreement – Good News for Regional Australia

The details of Australia’s recent free trade agreement with China will have strong positive effects for regional Australia including the Central Tablelands. The agreement will help to provide China’s growing middle class with quality beef, wool and wine, strengthening Australian producers.

The agreement has removed the barriers for Australian agricultural exports including beef, dairy, lamb and wool. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said, “I trust that today our Chinese friends will enjoy the fine beef and the good wine that will soon be more readily enjoyed by their countrymen.’

China currently buys more of Australia’s agricultural produce than any other country, worth approximately $9 billion dollars to Australian farmers and regional communities. This agreement provides Australia with an advantage over other major agricultural produce competitors including the US, Canada and the European Union. It now puts us in line with Chile and New Zealand who also have free trade agreements with China, which will see a change to tariff structures.

Farmers can celebrate the elimination of tariffs on entry for barley and sorghum, and there will be a rapid tariff reduction on other agricultural exports including dairy, beef, wine and wool. Graziers can look to a reduction in beef tariffs alone of up to 12-25 percent over 9 years.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said exports of live cattle could happen in the near future, provide more strength and stability to the Australian cattle market, and build on the current beef market into China, which in 2013 was 60,000 tonnes, and 260,000 tonnes last year.

As the Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange, located at Carcaor is one of the most advanced livestock facilities in Australia, and yards over 6,000 head of cattle and 12,000 head of sheep a week, the communities around Bathurst, Blayney, Molong and Oberon are sure to feel some of these benefits directly.