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Agreement foreshadows live cattle exports to China
(Thursday, 10 April 2014 - ABC News)

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between Western Australian live exporters and Chinese company representatives.

The agreement, signed at the China Agribusiness Co-operation Conference in Perth today, is to advance work towards exporting trial shipments of live cattle to China.

Under the agreement, parties have agreed to work towards animal health and welfare protocols for cattle heading from WA.

Exporters known to have signed the agreement include the WA Livestock Exporters Association and the Australian Livestock Exports.

China is said to be after both feeder and slaughter ready cattle sourced from all around the state.

Southern breeders are already sent to the country.

It's unsure what the time frame is for protocols to be established with admittedly there still being a lot of work to be done.

Last year, a similar MOU was signed by WA Premier Colin Barnett and Dr Xia Baolong, party secretary of Zhejiang, the WA's sister province in eastern China.

"Our ability to grow more food than required by our domestic market has led to producers looking to develop new markets overseas," said WA Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston, who witnessed the signing.

"In recent times, China has been our number one export destination for agriculture and food products, and in 2012-13, WA agrifood exports to China and Hong Kong were worth more than $1billion.

"We look forward to increasing that value.

"Today’s agreement reaches further, seeking cooperation at a ‘business to business’ level, beyond the initial ‘government to government’ agreement.”

Commercial manager of South East Asian Livestock Services, Dean Ryan, says it's a positive move but there's a lot of work to be done.

"It's definitely going to take some time because health protocols and welfare protocols are two vastly different things.

"The first step is you have to have a workable health protocol which actually is a veterinary status of the animals before they can leave Australian shores."

Mr Ryan says the major sticking point has been China's refusal of cattle from areas affected by the Bluetongue virus.

However Mr Ryan says he thinks, and is hopeful, there has been a change of attitude.

"However I think they are willing to come to the table now.

"The fact that they have actually started talks and quarantine officials are coming to Australia for talks with our Department of Agriculture is a step in the right direction."



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