Trade Minister Craig Emerson
Trade Minister Craig Emerson Rob Williams

Craig Emerson discusses the power of Chinese markets

FARMERS wishing to break into the lucrative Chinese market have been urged to build joint ventures in Australia.

Trade Minister Craig Emerson told an agricultural conference in Brisbane on Wednesday that rather than waiting for the Australian Government to finalise a free trade agreement with the emerging superpower, shared projects would build support within China to relax their tight import restrictions.

He said fears that China would somehow buy up all Australian farms then leave no food for this country had to be dispelled.

By having these international interests in food production, Chinese firms were more likely to question their government on why they were forced to pay tariffs to bring produce back into China.

"You then have advocates in there every day, saying why do we have to spend this extra money to bring this into our country?" Dr Emerson said.

"Yes, there is a role for Chinese investment in Australia.

"Some of our biggest agriculture companies have a significant interest from or majority ownership from Chinese companies."

Dr Emerson told the forum of the emerging power of the Chinese markets.

As the population's income grew, so too did their demand for animal products, dairy and other Australian produce.

He said to capitalise on these changes, funds needed to come from beyond our shores.

Without it, Australian farming would be risking a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" for development.

Discussions with Chinese to finalise a Free Trade Agreement have been ongoing since 2005.


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