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Exclusive interview: More Aussie food to enter China following ChAFTA

CCTV.com

04-25-2016 17:20 BJT

Agriculture leader Liu Yonghao told CCTV news that China will soon seen a huge boost of food imports from Australia. It was Liu's first TV interview since launching an industrial park in Zhejiang Province under the watchful eyes of Premier Li Keqiang and Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull.

"Tell us more about this industrial park in Zhejiang, and how will that help boost trade between Australia and China?" said reporter Laura Luo.

"The Free Trade Agreement between China and Australia has provided us with convenience in importing from Australia on a large scale, as well as the communication of the two countries. I found several Chinese firms who are interested in investing in Australia and Australian firms that are interested in agriculture and food safety and established a Sino-Australia Agriculture and Food Safety 100 year cooperation plan, also known as ASA100.

The plan was endorsed by governments from both countries. This not only helped boost Australian exports, but also met Chinese consumers' need to buy high-end products. And then we thought why don't we build a industrial park that can make trade easier for both sides? So we talked to the governments from both countries, and selected Zhoushan in Zhejiang Province as our port and free trade zone.

Zhoushan has a good location that links major shipping routes, and China's Yangtze river delta, which is an area that has the strongest manufacturing power and best consumption power. It also links the inland. The Zhoushan Industrial park will have support from the government, and directly by companies, with market oriented methods. We will build a port, harbor, warehouses, freeze warehouses, trade system, and hopefully customs and quarantine.

We hope to make it the number one free-trade-zone in Asia for high-end animal proteins such as beef, lamb, and seafood, as well the processing of these products. We will not only import raw materials but also Australia's food-safety standards. Then China will be able to produce high-end food with the standard as that of Australia's," Liu said.

What countries would you be most likely to invest in and what areas?

"Before, there were many state-owned-companies that went to overseas markets to invest. However, in recent years, private firms have caught up with the overseas investment pace. This shows that private businesses in China want to better integrate into the global economy. In New Hope Group's case, we will invest more in new continent regions, such as the US, North America, South America, Australia and New Zealand. Animal breeding for pigs, chickens, duck, fish and cows. Breeding is the most important. And high-end lobsters. However, it may still take some time for international markets to know and accept Chinese private businesses. We hope we can show the world that some Chinese companies are very globalized, and are trustworthy," he said.

What's your prediction of the pig cycle? Will pork prices come down?

"In the past two years many pig farmers made losses and closed down their farms. That has reduced the number of sows and therefore the number of pigs dropped in the market. The pork supply is lower than demand, therefore prices went up. However we've seen a revised investment in pig farms by Chinese companies. The New Hope Group has also announced a 8.8 billion yuan investment in the next three years to pig breeding businesses, which aims to raise over 10 million pigs. We expect pork prices to come down in one year, but it's unlikely to decline sharply in the next few months. But we don't expect to see prices surge any more," he said. 

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