China is likely to become an increasingly important market for Australian grain growers following its recent steps toward freer trade and economic development, according to AWB Limited Chairman, Trevor Flugge.
In an address to the China-Australia Bilateral meeting of key Government and business representatives in Beijing, Mr Flugge said last week’s accession by China into the World Trade Organisation would fuel further opportunities for Australian agricultural exports to the country.
“It is clear that as China continues its program of economic reform and development, and opens its economy up to competition, there will be increased opportunities for exports from the Australian agricultural sector,” said Mr Flugge.
He said in the past few years, China, the world’s most populous nation, had not been a major importer of grain.
“But as the economy moves to take advantage of areas where it has a comparative advantage, there is likely to be a shift in its production base away from agriculture, toward the manufacturing sector,” said Mr Flugge.
“That could result in opportunities for countries such as Australia to play a major role in ensuring China’s food security.”
Mr Flugge encouraged Australian industry to “look outside the square” when examining the opportunities which may present themselves in China in coming years.
“As well as increased trade, there are also going to be opportunities for technology transfer, joint ventures, and infrastructure development which Australian companies should explore,” he said.
“AWB Limited has a long history of supplying the Chinese market, and is proud of the strong relationship and reputation it has established as a consistent supplier of quality product under the Single Desk marketing arrangements.”
Mr Flugge recently returned from China following a visit as part of an Australian business delegation billed as the most powerful to ever visit the country, which included senior staff and Chairmen of Australia’s most important companies.
“I think it is important that AWB can take its place amongst a distinguished group of Australian and Chinese representatives such as this, and that we can actively contribute to the growing bilateral relationship between the two countries,” said Mr Flugge.
“This can only lead to a stronger relationship between Australia and China and open up commercial opportunities which will benefit Chinese consumers, Australian wheat growers and AWB shareholders alike.”