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Australian meat chief targets China and Saudi in 2017

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Oscar Rousseau

By Oscar Rousseau+

Last updated on 21-Dec-2016 at 12:45 GMT2016-12-21T12:45:47Z

Simon Westaway remains
Simon Westaway remains "focused" on carving open the lucrative Saudi Arabian market

The CEO of the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC) has targeted market “diversification” as a key meat industry priority for 2017.

Australian livestock exporters have much to be optimistic about in 2017, according to Simon Westaway, who said “highly anticipated trade” of feed and slaughter cattle to China could be enjoyed next year, as well as the long-awaited re-opening of the Saudi Arabian market for sheep meat.

Enhanced livestock trade with China will “add significant value to our industry and provide extra marketing options for cattle producers,” said Westaway in a statement.

He added that ALEC was “very much focused” on re-opening the live sheep trade in Saudi Arabia, which Westaway described as an “important trade opportunity”. Formerly the biggest market for Australian sheep meat, Saudi Arabia has not imported livestock from the country since 2012 after it rejected the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS).

Priority efforts

We believe our existing Memorandum of Understanding with Saudi Arabia, or a slightly reformed version thereof, provides the best foundation on which these high priority efforts to re-open the market can be based. This also means that ESCAS will not be altered in any way.

While China and Saudi are obvious markets for ALEC to target, Indonesia is another attracting interest. A recent market update report from Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) showed that feeder and slaughter cattle exports to all markets are set to finish the calendar year below one million, with 917,000 exported up to the end of November.

In November, Indonesia imported 67,000 head of cattle from Australia making it ALEC’s largest market for meat-giving cows. To put this in perspective, Australia exported 88,346 head of cattle in November, so Indonesia accounts for roughly 75% of trade.

Growth in Indonesia

A further 20,000 head of cattle are expected to be exported to Indonesia in December, according to the ALEC.

The trade with Indonesia is underpinned in the long-term by our shared objectives around ongoing economic development and working cooperatively to build Indonesia’s beef and cattle capacity,” said Westaway.

It is a critical partnership built on long-term collaboration and strategic alignment, and the ongoing dialogue around the trade shows the relationship is well placed to navigate changes in market and policy settings.

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