Meat & Livestock News

Australia Eyes Christmas Cheer in Beef Trade Talks with China

A controller looking at pork and checking on it at meat factory.

In a hopeful turn of events, the Australian Government is looking towards a merry resolution with China on the beef trade impasse by this Christmas. This optimism stems from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s recent diplomatic visit to Beijing, which seems to have thawed the frosty relations.

Since the Labor government took the reins last year, there’s been a noticeable push to patch things up with China, Australia’s top trading partner. The rift, which kicked off in 2020 after Australia’s call for a probe into COVID-19’s origins, led to China clamping down on trade. But now, some of those barriers are lifting.

Here’s the current beef: 11 big Aussie beef processors are on pause for sending their chilled and frozen goods to China. These suspensions, mostly over small-scale regulatory or paperwork hiccups, have been hanging around since as far back as 2017, with a few added during the COVID times in 2021.

There’s also a queue of about a dozen red meat plants waiting for the green light from China. The paperwork’s all in, but just waiting on the nod from Chinese officials.

Minister Farrell’s got his fingers crossed to iron out these beef and lobster export wrinkles before he meets his Chinese counterpart, Wang Wentao, in San Francisco.

The trade ministers from both countries broke their three-year no-chat streak this May, which is a pretty big deal.

But let’s not break out the party hats just yet. Some folks in the trade scene are keeping their expectations in check, especially since some of these beef plant suspensions are getting on in years – we’re talking half a decade here. 

This whole scenario really puts the spotlight on the delicate dance of international trade and diplomacy.

If the Australian government can successfully navigate these choppy waters and get back on good terms with China, it could mean a major win for Aussie beef exporters, opening the doors to a market that’s been under lock and key for a while.