Continued economic development in Asia will help to open up the region and provide Australian exporters with long-term growth opportunities, according to AWB Chairman Trevor Flügge.
Speaking today at the Asia Society’s Developing Agribusiness in Asia forum, Mr Flügge said that increasing urbanisation and a move away from agricultural production toward industry in Asia has the potential to increase the demand for Australian wheat exports.
“In Asia, we are seeing rising living standards, and one of the first discernable signs of improving economic welfare is changing food consumption patterns towards higher value products such as noodles and breads and away from rice,” said Mr Flügge.
“Combined with strong population growth, this should create significant grain export opportunities for AWB.
According to Mr Flügge, this trend will result in greater demand from countries that are becomingly increasingly wealthy, but less able to be self sufficient in terms of food production.
“Australia’s proximity to the region also gives us an advantage over our international competitors in capturing this growth market,” Mr Flügge said.
In his speech, Mr Flügge also explained how China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation should provide investment opportunities for Australian business.
“We expect China to gradually become a more significant importer of grain,” Mr Flügge said. “The opening up of the Chinese economy should also present opportunities including joint ventures, technology transfer and downstream processing.
“China’s entry into the WTO will cause it to readjust its agricultural structure and for Australia agricultural exports this should mean more secure and significantly improved market access, helping Australian industries to compete on fair terms with other suppliers,” said Mr Flügge.
As a member of the WTO, China’s average tariff on agricultural products would be cut by 20 per cent by 2004.
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