Oakey Beef Exports general manager Pat Gleeson has called on the Prime Minister to fast-track trade negotiations with China to allow more chilled beef access.
During PM Malcolm Turnbull’s first speech of 2018 held in Toowoomba, Mr Gleeson vented his frustration in a question asking ‘what the federal government is currently doing to increase numbers of approved Australian beef abattoirs allowed to export chilled beef into China’.
“It’s extremely important and only this morning I had Chinese customers ringing to ask when our chilled beef can be air freighted from Wellcamp airport direct to them,” Mr Gleeson said.
“I find it extremely frustrating and it’s holding us (Oakey Beef Exports) back.
“We would really like to know if there’s any resolution of these non-trade barriers going forward.”
At this point, it appears chilled beef access negotiations with China will drag-on with Mr Turnbull giving little indication of any timelines.
“Barnaby (Joyce) and I have both been involved in talks with that and we’re just going to have to keep working on that,” Mr Turnbull said.
“As I said earlier the old free trade business is a slog.
“There always interests that are not in favour of it in different countries, so we just got to keep working at it.”
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Mr Turnbull reassured the crowd at Toowoomba’s Empire Theatre it was a “big focus” for the government including federal trade minister Steven Ciobo.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce also stepped-in to tout the government's cattle and beef industry achievements, which included an increase of live cattle exports to Vietnam by 1600 per cent over the past two years.
The politicians reassurance comes as Oakey Beef Exports continues to wait for chilled beef access to China almost 12 months after the federal government announced an agreement with China intended to greatly improve market access for Australian chilled and frozen beef to the Asian nation.
“They really have to continue focusing on this and continue the dialogue with China to fast track chilled beef access,” Mr Gleeson said.
Currently, five major Queensland beef processors have approval to export chilled beef product to China.