Boost for Australia-China Live Sheep Trade


Published Nov 11, 2017 6:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

Australia and China have agreed to new conditions for exports of live feeder and slaughter sheep and goats and their semen, a move expected to strengthen the $13.2 billion two-way agricultural trade relationship between Australia and China.

China is Australia's 10th largest market for live animal exports, growing from $117 million in 2010 to $173 million in 2016, and is our largest market for breeder cattle.

There is high demand in China for Australian livestock, and the Australian industry anticipates there is the potential to grow the trade significantly each year.

Tariff reductions under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) have seen the pre-ChAFTA 10 percent tariff for live slaughter and feeder cattle and live slaughter sheep exports fall to four percent. These tariffs will be completely eliminated by January 1, 2019.

In 2016, Australia exported over three million feeder, slaughter and breeder livestock to the world, including approximately one million feeder and slaughter cattle exported to 16 markets. Over 94,000 breeder cattle and almost 6,400 breeder sheep were exported to China in 2016.

China is the world's second largest agricultural importer (after the U.S.), with imports worth over $120 billion. Australia is one of the few countries to have negotiated access for live feeder and slaughter cattle to China.

“The live feeder/slaughter cattle trade to China is now gaining momentum after initial air consignments last year, two seaborne shipments so far this year and further trade expected before Christmas,” says Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council CEO Simon Westaway. “This trade with China represents new, closed-loop supply chains, with the highest levels of control, traceability and animal welfare in keeping with the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS).”

Australia is the only country in the world with legislation that decrees that the welfare of Australian-originated livestock remains the responsibility of the Australian exporter. The livestock retain their national identity to the point of slaughter, irrespective of any subsequent ownership transfer. Under ESCAS, Australian livestock must not be sold outside of approved supply chains and cannot be purchased for home slaughter or for slaughter at facilities that have not been approved as meeting international animal welfare standards.

Following the new agreement between Australia and China, livestock export company South East Asian Livestock Services (SEALS) announced that Singapore’s Yarra Corporation has taken up controlling stake in the company, a move that facilitates live export from Australia through Yarra's distribution networks in China.