Feeding the Future

A Joint Australia–China Report on Strengthening Investment and Technological Cooperation in Agriculture to Enhance Food Security

Australia–China Joint Working Group

December 2012

Australian flag People's Republic of China flag

Imprint information

ISBN 978-1-74322-042-9 (print)
ISBN 978-1-74322-043-6 (PDF format)
ISBN 978-1-74322-045-0 (online)


Inquiries regarding the report are welcome at:
Assistant Secretary
East Asia Branch
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
R G Casey Building
John McEwen Crescent
Barton ACT 0221 Australia
Phone: +61 2 6261 1111

National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry:
Author: Australia. Dept. of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Title: Feeding the future : a joint Australia–China study on strengthening agricultural investment and technological cooperation to improve food security / Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Australia) and Ministry of Commerce (China).
ISBN: 9781743220429 (pbk.)
Subjects: Agriculture–Australia.
Food security–Australia.
Food security–China.
Food industry and trade–Australia.
Food industry and trade–China.
Corporations, Foreign–Australia.
Corporations, Foreign–China.

Photographs copyright © Commonwealth of Australia

Joint Ministerial Foreword

It is a pleasure to present this joint study between Australia and China on how to strengthen investment and technological cooperation in agriculture to enhance food security. We—Australia’s Ministers for Trade and Competitiveness and for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and China’s Ministers of Commerce and of Agriculture—began discussing this important global issue last year.

Continuing population growth and limited land and water resources, particularly in the Asia–Pacific region, have made food security a priority for many governments. As the economies in our region grow, and per capita incomes rise, consumers will increasingly demand safe, high-quality, high-protein food.

Australia has earned a global reputation for its expertise in agriculture and the high quality of its produce. It still has large tracts of unused or under-utilised areas in its northern regions. Some of this land could, with investment in new productive capacity and the appropriate application of technologies, produce more food for sale on world markets.

China has its own expertise in agriculture as well as a surplus of investible capital, and has developed great plans for the further development of modern agriculture. After decades of progress and growth, China has developed advanced agricultural technology in areas such as crop breeding; plant disease and insect pest prevention and control technologies; and animal disease prevention and control. Firms also spread these leading technologies internationally, and so make an important contribution to improving food production and enhancing global food security.

In our discussions, we agreed that our two countries could work together to ease growing pressure on global food supplies. In the follow-up, Australia hosted two delegations of Chinese government, business and banking representatives in the agricultural sector. A reciprocal visit to China by Australian business representatives and officials provided further input to the study.

This paper is, first and foremost, about cooperation to raise rural productivity to supply global markets. By bringing land, capital and know-how together our two countries can make a difference. Additionally, both countries hope to develop technological cooperation and investment opportunities to improve the production of agrifood.

At the same time, we recognise that this study makes a limited contribution to the challenge of global food security. But it helps to establish a best-practice approach to Australia–China cooperation on this issue, which could provide a model for improved international cooperation. The principles it identifies are central to long-term success in our bilateral cooperation on agribusiness. Governments need to provide the right policy and regulatory environment so that companies can make sound decisions.

Strengthening agricultural investment and deepening technological cooperation is a focus of international cooperation to address food security, and is also an important measure to promote bilateral cooperation. This is the first time that our two governments have worked together on such a project. It is an excellent example of what can be achieved through cooperation, a model we may wish to emulate in the future. We sincerely thank all those who have contributed to this report.

Craig Emerson
Minister for Trade and Competitiveness
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy

Joe Ludwig
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Chen Deming
Minister of Commerce
People's Republic of China

Han Changfu
Minister of Agriculture
People's Republic of China


In this report, “agrifood” is defined as any food or beverage, or food or beverage material from unprocessed through semi-processed to fully processed (e.g. from wheat grain through flour to bread, biscuits and pasta); and this includes fish and seafood products; it does not include inedible agricultural materials and products like fibre (e.g. wool, cotton and hides) or forestry products.
food security
There are many concepts and definitions of food security, the most widely accepted internationally is that developed by the 191 member states of the Food and Agriculture Organization: “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (FAO, 2009a). Each country has its own detailed perspective on food security. In China, food security means all people, at all times, have access to affordable basic foodstuffs. In this definition, basic foodstuffs refers to the most important grains for maintaining human existence. The internationally accepted definition of food covers grains and other agricultural products including meats, vegetables, fruits and aquatic products. Australia’s perspective is that most countries will produce some part of their nation’s food supplies; but that it is important for countries to recognise that maximising one’s national food security will usually mean the most efficient mix of domestic food production, exports and imports.
The Chinese definition of grains includes cereals, legumes and tubers. In most countries, including Australia, grains generally refers only to cereals.
Hectare; equivalent to 15 mu.
Chinese unit of area measurement; equivalent to 1/15 of a hectare, or 667 square metres.

Technical notes

Unless otherwise specified, all value data are in Australian dollars.

Unless otherwise specified, all data are for calendar years.

Some data are only available for Australian financial years, which run from 1 July to 30 June.

Where applicable, the following conversion rates have been used:

Year Australian dollar (AUD) -> US dollars (USD) Australian dollar (AUD) -> Chinese Yuan (CNY)
2008 0.8525 5.9303
2009 0.7927 5.4148
2010 0.9197 6.2224
2011 1.0320 6.6696
2012 1.0343 6.5495

Source: Reserve Bank of Australia

Note that the 2012 figure is the average for the period 1 January–31 August.

List of acronyms and abbreviations

Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Australia–China Agricultural Cooperation Agreement
Australia–China Business Council
Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research
Australia–China Science and Research Fund
Australian and New Zealand Banking Corporation
Australian Agency for International Development
Australian Trade Commission
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
foreign direct investment
Australian Foreign Investment Review Board
Australia–China Joint Agricultural Commission
Australia–China Joint Ministerial Economic Commission
Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China
Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China
National Farmers’ Federation
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
Australian Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council
People’s Republic of China
research and development
Australian Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
United Nations
World Trade Organization

List of figures and maps

Figure 1
Global arable land and grain yields, 1978–2010
Figure 2
China’s agriculture value-added in GDP and its composition in 2010
Figure 3
China’s grain production, 1978–2011
Figure 4
Australian agrifood exports by main category, 2001–11
Figure 5
Global grains production and trade—Australia’s and China’s shares
Figure 6
Trends in Australian broadacre total factor productivity, total inputs and total outputs, 1977–78 to 2009–10
Figure 7
Chinese direct investment in Australia by sector, 2010
Figure 8
Chinese foreign direct investment in agriculture, all countries, 2008–2011
Figure 9
Sectoral distribution of Chinese direct investment in Australian agriculture
Map 1
Land use in Australia, 2005–06
Map 2
Australia’s average annual rainfall
Map 3
The Ord, Flinders and Gilbert Rivers of northern Australia

Executive Summary

Food security will remain a global concern for decades to come as demand increases and pressures grow on supply. Australia and China share a common interest in ensuring food security nationally, regionally and globally. Further cooperation between Australia and China can make a significant contribution to improving food security, as well as providing opportunities for commercial benefits to people who farm or fish and to agrifood businesses in both countries.

Australia and China are natural partners for collaboration. Both are major agricultural producers. Both face challenges to maintain and expand food production. Both are at the forefront of agricultural innovation, research and development. Both have expertise in sectors such as dryland agriculture that can be shared with other countries facing similar problems.

China is one of the world’s largest producers of grains, most of which is consumed domestically. Improving productive capacity and achieving self-sufficiency of grains for a large population of 1.35 billion is one of the priorities for China’s government. China faces challenges of limited water and land resources, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters associated with climate change. The Chinese Government has developed the 12th Five-Year Plan on National Agriculture and Rural Economic Development (2011–2015) to guide China’s agricultural production and development. Foreign investment in agrifood is permitted under an approval system. There is a detailed catalogue which specifies the sectors in which investment is encouraged, permitted and, in some areas, restricted or prohibited (see Appendix 3).

Australia produces much less food than many other countries, including China, but is able to export well over half of its agrifood production. It is a leading supplier to world markets of beef, sheepmeat, wheat, barley, sugar and dairy products. Australia is expected to remain a substantial surplus producer but agricultural production faces challenges including limited land and water resources, adapting to climate change, the need for improved infrastructure and a slowing in the rate of productivity growth. A framework for the Australian Government’s response is the forthcoming National Food Plan.

Australia welcomes foreign investment, including in the agrifood sector. Foreign capital has long supplemented domestic savings to help finance the development, improvement and operation of agricultural and food businesses—so making Australians more prosperous. Australia is an attractive destination for foreign investment because of the low level of sovereign risk. The Australian Government’s 18 January 2012 “Policy Statement: Foreign Investment in Agriculture” (see Appendix 4) reaffirms the Australian Government’s policy framework and provides detailed guidance specific to the sector. The Australian Government is taking steps to ensure the policy is well understood and to strengthen the transparency of foreign ownership of rural land and agrifood production.

Chinese investment in Australia’s agrifood sector is in its infancy with investment projects small in number and size. But it is increasing and diversifying in scope, type of investor, mode of investment, and area of investment.

Australia’s agrifood investment in China is even smaller. A small number of Australian firms have invested in China, primarily to help sell their products there. A number of firms are providing logistical and rural banking services.

Bilateral investment cooperation should focus on improving productivity and expanding productive capacity sustainably in both countries, with any increase in production in Australia available for sale on world markets. Areas with high potential include: developing water and soil resources in northern Australia; commercialising new technology and new plant and animal varieties; and improvements in food processing and logistics.

China’s government has invested much effort and money in improving its level of agricultural and related technology, driven by the domestic demand for food. After decades of progress and growth, China has developed advanced agricultural technology in areas such as crop breeding, and prevention and control technologies for plant diseases, insect pests and animal diseases. It is starting to focus more on issues such as monitoring the environmental effects of food production, raising food safety standards and improving quality assurance systems.

Agricultural innovation has been a necessary response to Australia’s particular climatic and environmental conditions. As a result, Australian governments have invested significantly in agricultural research and innovation. Australian researchers have a record of world-class scientific results in fields such as low-carbon farming, sustainable agriculture, genetic resources, and plant and animal health.

Australia and China have a history of productive cooperation in agricultural research and development. Much of this was funded initially by Australia’s aid program. Cooperation between the two countries now is increasingly moving towards a commercial basis and is growing deeper.

While Chinese firms’ investment in Australia’s agrifood sector is growing, some perceive challenges including: risks in obtaining government approval; delayed returns on investment and risks of excessive “green tape”; labour shortages; and difficulties in obtaining all the necessary information. Chinese researchers and farmers also have concerns about the difficulty of achieving good results in China with imported technology, and the absence of an effective platform for technological exchange, cooperation and exhibition.

Some Australian firms also see challenges to investing in China, including: perceived risks associated with the policy environment and regulatory oversight; land ownership and security of tenure; the development of agribusiness logistics; the need for strengthened enforcement of food-quality regulations; and the market for transferring rural land-use rights. Australian researchers generally view collaboration with China favourably but perceive concerns about intellectual property rights; identifying suitable Chinese counterparts; and insufficient language and inter-cultural skills among some Australian researchers.

Notwithstanding these perceived challenges there are opportunities for mutually beneficial investment, especially where this will expand productive capacity. Chinese firms are interested in investing in new irrigation developments in northern Australia (such as the Ord-East Kimberley Expansion Project); in the raising and processing of animals and their output (such as dairy products); tropical agriculture; offshore mariculture; the commercialisation of agrifood-related research; and food processing. There are opportunities for Australian firms to provide specialised services such as distribution, logistics and supply-chain management, land remediation—a growing need in China—and rural banking. There are also opportunities for Australian researchers and firms to develop demonstration farms in China to showcase their expertise and accomplishments.

Furthermore, there are opportunities for cooperation in innovation and technology that can improve productivity and be commercialised. Priority areas include: sustainable agriculture; animal and plant genetic resources; animal disease health; plant biotechnology; agricultural processing; environmental remediation; and remote sensing technologies for agriculture.

Australia and China have concluded that cooperation in the agrifood sector can contribute to improving global food security. This can be achieved through investment that lifts productivity and expands productive capacity, and focused cooperation in innovation, technology and services. As this cooperation between Australia and China begins in earnest, the objective is to establish a best-practice approach based on these guiding principles:


(I) Investment

(II) Technological and services cooperation

(III) Joint consultative mechanisms

Chapter 1: Overview

I. Strengthening agricultural cooperation between Australia and China to deal with global food security challenges

In the 21st century, with continuing global population growth and changes in food consumption patterns, the scale of global food demand will continue to grow significantly. However, the limited available arable land and water resources, and the slowdown in yield growth for grains are tightening the worldwide food supply and demand balance (see Figure 1). Since 2007, food prices and potential shortages, caused by a number of factors, have been of great concern among many countries. International attention has focused once again on global food security. According to World Bank statistics, 925 million people suffered from hunger in 2010.

Figure 1: Global arable land and grain yields, 1978–2010
The area of land worldwide that is arable or permanently cropped increased from 1.44 billion hectares in 1978 to 1.52 billion hectares in 1990 and then fluctuated around that level.  In 2010 the area was estimated to be just over 1.53 billion hectares. Over the same period grains production increased.  In 1978 it was 1.58 billion tonnes.  Production grew steadily until 2008 when it exceeded 2.5 billion tonnes. It has fallen slightly since then.
Note: estimated data for 2010
Source: FAO database, November 2012

According to the Population Division of the United Nations, the world’s population is projected to rise to 9.3 billion by 2050 from the current seven billion. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has estimated that global food demand will increase by around 70 per cent by 2050, and global grains demand could double from the current 2.5 billion tonnes by 2050. Food prices are expected to remain higher on average than pre-2006 levels for at least the coming decade. This will pose challenges for global food security. However, if markets work, higher prices can also act as incentives for farmers to produce more.

Food security is a complex and critical global issue, and there is much debate over its causes and solutions. Generally accepted causes include increasing consumption as a result of continued population growth, changing consumption patterns driven by rising incomes and accelerating urbanisation, and limited land and water resources. More controversially, some believe the continued effort to develop biofuels by the USA, European Union, Brazil and others has put strains on food production. Others have raised concerns about the possible contribution of financial speculation to the significant rise in agricultural commodity prices over the past half-decade, and the impact of severe price volatility on major agricultural commodity importers and exporters.

However, a study published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and FAO in May 2011 found that supply and demand remained the fundamental drivers of agricultural commodity prices, that speculation played an essential market role in providing liquidity to commodity trade, and that more open and extensive trade was a key way to reduce price volatility.

Improving food security is a major global challenge. Enhancing investment and technological cooperation in agriculture between Australia and China can make a significant contribution to improving global food security, as well as providing opportunities for commercial benefits to people who farm or fish, and agricultural and food businesses in both countries.

II. Cooperation based on common interests and respective advantages

Agriculture holds an important position in the national economy of both Australia and China. Both countries place a high priority on improving the productivity and output of their agriculture and fisheries sectors on an environmentally sustainable basis.

Australia and China are major food exporters and important agricultural trade partners—indeed, a significant trade in wheat began in 1960. In 2011, China’s agrifood exports were US$60.1 billion and Australia’s $29.6 billion. In 2011, China was the fifth-largest market for Australian agrifood exports, and Australia was the eighth-largest source country for China's imports of agricultural products. China was the third-largest source of agrifood imports into Australia, and Australia was the 11th-largest market for Chinese agrifood exports. Australia’s agrifood exports to China were worth $1.9 billion in 2011; the largest items were barley and malt, wheat, milk powder, seafood, sheepmeat, edible offal and wine. China’s agrifood exports to Australia were worth $0.8 billion in 2011; the largest items were processed fish and seafood, confectionery, fruit juice, bakery products and other processed foods (see Statistical annex).

The bilateral relationship between Australia and China in relation to agricultural investment and technology has been steadily increasing over the past four decades, in part because of the links to the expanding bilateral agrifood trade. By 2011 over 100 agricultural technology cooperation projects in China had been supported or aided by Australia. China’s direct investment in Australia’s agriculture and food processing sector in 2011 (flow) was US$19.5 million, with cumulative Chinese investment in the sector (stock) standing at US$47.1 million (MOFCOM 2012). The stock of Chinese direct investment in all sectors in Australia by 2011 was US$11 billion, according to Chinese records (MOFCOM 2012). Australian investment in China’s agrifood sector is understood to be much smaller, as the stock of Australian direct investment in China in all sectors was $6.4 billion by 2011 (ABS 2012).

Australia and China have a common interest in steadily improving their capacity to supply agricultural products to satisfy the world’s ever-increasing demand for agrifood products. An important part of this will be strengthening bilateral investment in the agrifood sector to increase sustainable production, improve the efficiency of distribution channels and markets, promote employment and the profitability of agricultural enterprises, and contribute to broader economic growth.

III. Opportunities to work together in investment and technological cooperation in agriculture

Against the above background, Australia and China conducted joint research on strengthening investment and technological cooperation in agriculture in order to address the challenges of global food security. This study is committed to providing a clear direction for obtaining mutual benefits from bilateral agricultural cooperation, and working to eliminate impediments to such cooperation. Amid widespread uncertainty about the rapidly changing global agrifood context, strengthening cooperation between Australia and China in the agriculture sector by developing and demonstrating a best-practice model can send a positive signal to the international community.

This joint Australia–China report focuses on:

Chapter 2: Agriculture in Australia and China

I. Agriculture in China

(I) Overview

1. Agriculture has an important position in China’s economy

As a developing country with a population of 1.35 billion, China sees resolving its food security problem through its own efforts as a critical task. By the end of 2010, China's rural population was 670 million, just over 50 per cent of the total. In 2010 agricultural value-added reached 4.1 trillion yuan ($659 billion), accounting for 10.1 per cent of GDP, with crop farming comprising 58 per cent, animal husbandry 25 per cent, forestry 4 per cent, fisheries including aquaculture 10 per cent, and other 3 per cent (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: China's agriculture value-added in GDP and its composition in 2010
In 2010 agriculture added ten per cent of the value produced in China’s economy, compared with 43 per cent for the service sector and 47 per cent for the industrial sector.
Within the agriculture sector, the majority of the value (58 per cent) was added by farming, with 25 per cent from animal husbandry, ten per cent from fisheries, four percent from forestry and three per cent from other activities.
Source: China Statistical Yearbook 2011; China Rural Area Statistical Yearbook 2011
2. China maintains a high level of self-sufficiency for agricultural products

The Chinese Government successfully feeds 21 per cent of the world’s population with just 9 per cent of the world’s arable land (China’s arable land area is 120 million hectares, equating to less than 0.1 hectares of arable land per capita). This makes an important contribution to global food security. Under the Chinese policy of using domestic resources to achieve self-sufficiency in the supply of grains and other agricultural products, a range of policy incentives have been introduced. Food production increased for eight consecutive years from 2003, with steady growth for major agricultural products. The supply of agricultural produce and products is adequate for China’s needs, and the production of meat, dairy products and eggs is growing rapidly to largely meet domestic consumer demand.

China's total grain output exceeded 500 million tonnes for five consecutive years, reaching a record 570 million tonnes in 2011. This was approximately 1.9 times production in 1978, the milestone year for China’s economic and agricultural reform and opening-up (see Figure 3). This was equivalent to a per capita grain availability level of 408.7 kg. China maintains significant state grain reserves, and grain imports and exports are mainly for adjustments in bad or good harvest years and adjustments to the supply of different grain types.

Figure 3: China's grain production, 1978–2011
(million tonnes)
Since the opening of the Chinese economy in 1978 Chinese production of grains has grown significantly.  In 1978 it was just over 300 million tonnes.  By 1990 it had reached almost 450 million tonnes.  Steady growth since then has seen production reach nearly 575 million tonnes in 2011.
Source: China Statistical Yearbook 2011, Statistical Communique of the People's Republic of China on National and Social Development 2011
3. Scientific and technological innovation in agriculture has become the major force to develop modern agriculture

Scientific and technological innovative capacity continues to grow. In the last five years, 2600 new varieties of staple crops have been developed. Up to 95 per cent of the area cultivated with these crops uses these improved varieties. As well, major animal diseases have been controlled by the research, manufacturing, promotion and application of livestock vaccines and medicines. Agricultural science and technology appropriate to China has been actively explored. As a result of improving its capacity for independent agricultural scientific and technological innovation, China has created a modern agriculture system, carried out new variety cultivation projects and scientific research projects in sectors for the public good (agriculture), which have effectively guided scientific and technological innovation in agriculture to concentrate on agricultural production. The contribution of agricultural scientific and technological progress to overall agricultural growth has reached 52 per cent.

A large, modern, high-ceilinged greenhouse filled with yellow-flowered plants growing in individual pots.
Greenhouse crops, Yangling

(II) China's main agricultural development policies

To enhance China’s agricultural development, the Chinese Government has implemented a suite of policies relating to agricultural production, the sale of resulting produce and foreign investment in agriculture.

1. Policies to improve domestic agricultural production capacity
2. Policies on building a good market environment
3 Policies on foreign investment in agriculture

The Chinese Government attaches great importance to the use of foreign investment to promote the country’s economic development. Agriculture is a key sector for utilising foreign investment and the use of foreign investment in agriculture maintains stable development. According to the 12th Five-Year Plan for International Agricultural Cooperation (MOA), during the "11th Five-Year Plan" period (2006–2010), total foreign investment in agriculture is about $4.6 billion, of which foreign direct investment is more than $4.1 billion.

(III) Main agricultural planning and prioritised industries and fields

1. Main agricultural planning

The 12th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development of the People’s Republic of China (2011–2015) and the National Modern Agriculture Development Plan (2011–2015) define the overall arrangements and requirements of the Chinese Government on the development of agriculture and rural economy. In September 2011, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture issued The 12th Five-Year Plan for National Agricultural and Rural Economic Development. The Plan further clarified the overall goal of agriculture and rural economic development during the 12th Five-Year period: steadily and comprehensively improving productive capacity for grains and other major agricultural products, and making significant progress in modernising agriculture; substantially increasing farmers' income and quality of life; achieving remarkable results in new rural area construction, and coordinating the development of urban and rural areas. On this basis, China further developed specific plans for agriculture and related industries.

2. Prioritised industries and fields

The Chinese Government has prioritised the following areas of agricultural development:

(IV) Challenges facing agricultural development in China

1. Shortage of arable land and water resources

Currently the per capita arable land of China is less than 0.1 hectare, only about 40 per cent of the world’s average. This number is declining due to continuing population growth, urbanisation and increased land usage by industry. The area of reserved arable land is insufficient; and the quality of much of the arable land is not very good, with moderate and lower yield land accounting for 67 per cent of the total. The Chinese level of per capita fresh water resource availability is about 2400 cubic metres, only one quarter of the world’s average (for water availability, China is ranked 88th out of 153 countries in World Bank statistics2). The distribution of China’s water resources is extremely uneven across the country, with severe water resource shortages in northern China.

2. Frequent natural disasters

China faces frequent drought and flood disasters. With the onset of climate change and frequent extreme weather events in recent years, the impact on agricultural production continues to deepen. Since 2004, grain losses caused by disasters exceeded 30 million tonnes per year and reached more than 55 million tonnes in 2009, accounting for 10 per cent of total grain production in that year.3

3. Weak agricultural infrastructure and support systems

Agricultural infrastructure is weak, particularly for irrigation and water conservation facilities, and about 60 per cent of cultivated land is affected by drought, salinity and other factors. The market trading system for agricultural products and the cold chain logistics system for fresh agricultural products are underdeveloped. Consequently, the capacity to respond to unexpected events and market fluctuations is limited.

4. Lower level of organisation in agricultural production and operation

China’s agricultural production method is based on household units, and is characterised by its small scale and the less developed level of organisation in production and operation. Intermediary organisations such as farmer cooperatives and industrial associations face problems, like the small scale of operation, a limited capacity to drive change and less standardised internal management in some cooperatives.

5. Higher level of post-harvest losses

China's agricultural product storage, preservation, drying and other primary processing methods are simple and the facilities are underdeveloped. The corn post-harvest losses are as high as 8 per cent to 12 per cent. The potatoes post-harvest losses are as high as 15 per cent to 25 per cent. The fruits post-harvest losses are as high as 10 per cent to 15 per cent. The vegetables post-harvest losses are as high as 15 per cent to 20 per cent.4

II. Agriculture in Australia

(I) Overview

1. A major global agricultural producer

Australia is a reliable global agricultural producer, though farm and fisheries production accounts for around just 2.4 per cent of Australia’s GDP, with a gross production value of $50.3 billion in Australia’s financial year 2010–11 (ABARES 2012).

Agricultural production and yields vary widely across Australia, reflecting the different geographical and climatic conditions (see Map 1).

Map 1: Land use in Australia, 2005–06
There are a wide variety of land uses within Australia.  Agricultural production and yields vary greatly across Australia because of different geographical and climatic conditions.

Australia is a major producer of broadacre crops (see the Statistical Annex). Between 2006 and 2010, Australia’s sowing area for winter crops ranged between 20 and 23 million hectares, and for summer crops between 9 and 13 million hectares. Wheat production is highly dependent on rainfall between April and November. Under favourable seasonal conditions, production is generally between 24 and 25 million tonnes. An average of around 13 million hectares is planted annually. The main coarse grain grown in Australia is barley, used principally for livestock feed and malting. Production of barley was around 8.1 million tonnes in 2010–11. An average of around 4.5 million hectares is planted annually. Grain sorghum, which is used for livestock feed, is the second-highest produced coarse grain in Australia. Production of sorghum was around 2.1 million tonnes in 2010–11 (DAFF 2012b).

Around 95 per cent of Australia's sugar comes from Queensland and the remainder from northern New South Wales. Harvested areas of sugar cane in Australia have declined since 2002–03 because of a range of factors, including relatively low world prices, drought, cyclones, urban encroachment and higher returns from alternative land uses, particularly forestry. In 2010–11, 334,000 hectares was planted, producing 3.6 million tonnes of sugar (DAFF 2012b).

Australia is also a major livestock producer, notwithstanding the low rate of stocking in much of the country. Beef production is widespread across Australia, with an average of 27.5 million head of cattle and a production of 2.1 million tonnes of beef. Australia’s dairy herd of 1.6 million cows produces 93.1 billion litres of milk, with a yield of over 5,650 litres per cow. The Australian pig herd was around 2.3 million head in 2010–11 and pork production was 342,000 tonnes. Australia’s 73 million sheep are reared for both wool and meat, producing over 620,000 tonnes of meat (DAFF 2012b).

Key factors underlying Australian agrifood production are:

An open and competitive economy
Tariffs are low and agricultural producers receive government funding support for just 3 per cent of their income, the second-lowest in the OECD. These factors, along with competitive markets, have broadened the sources of food for Australians and expanded consumer choice. Australia’s imports of food, beverages and fishery products have grown. In 2011 imports totalled $11.6 billion compared to exports of $29.6 billion.

An emphasis on food safety and biosecurity
Australia is free of many pests and diseases found in other countries, including major livestock diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and foot and mouth disease (FMD). Maintaining this largely disease-free status is a priority. So too is maintaining high levels of food safety, both for exports and domestic consumption. According to the OECD, Australia ranked equal first with Denmark and the UK for food safety performance in 2010.

A strong R&D base
Australia’s agrifood productivity growth is driven, in part, by the strong agricultural R&D base, including networks linking universities, government and specialist research centres. Sectoral R&D is funded equally by both government and producers.

Efficient supply management
Australia’s agricultural supply-chain management functions well, though constant effort is needed to improve efficiency and cost-competitiveness. The expertise and infrastructure to transport agrifood products reliably, safely and in a timely manner helps to make Australia one of the world’s leading agricultural exporters. It is also important in ensuring high levels of quality and safety for domestic and international consumers.

2. . . . with strengths in many fields . . .

Australia has developed many strengths, including:

3. . . . and a net contributor to global agrifood supplies

Australia currently produces sufficient food to feed up to 60 million people but has a population of less than 23 million. The export of surplus agricultural products increases global food supplies. This, when combined with accessible and efficient global agricultural and food markets and supply channels, helps reduce market and price volatility and thereby helps improve global food security.

Notwithstanding this considerable surplus, Australia’s share of total global agrifood production is quite small overall (around 3 per cent), much less than China’s. For some important agrifood products, however, particularly beef, sheepmeat, wheat, barley, sugar, dairy, canola and pulses, Australia is a significant global exporter. In 2011 Australia ranked 17th among food exporting countries, with 2 per cent of total global exports. (WTO 2012; see also Figures 7 and 8 below, and Appendix 1).

Figure 4: Australian agrifood exports by main category, 2001–11
($ million)
Total Australian exports of agricultural products increased from almost $27 billion in 2001 to almost $30 billion in 2011.  However, there were major fluctuations – exports were less than $21 billion in 2003.  Overall, grains were the largest sector by value, and also varied most, a consequence principally of drought.  In the mid-2000s beef and veal exports exceeded the value of grains exports.  Dairy products were the third-largest group of exports by value most years.
Note: fcf = fresh, chilled or frozen
Source: DFAT STARS database, based on ABS data

Australia is expected to continue to produce a surplus even as domestic demand grows (Linehan et al. 2012). This growth in Australian demand will flow primarily from an increase in population: the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimates Australia’s population will be more than 35 million by 2056, on current trends (ABS 2010). Current trends in Australia’s consumption profile are expected to continue: consumers are likely to continue to favour high-protein, highly processed, convenience-oriented food, with an emphasis on quality, safety and traceability. As demand grows, Australia’s imports of food—mainly out-of-season produce and highly processed foods and beverages—are also expected to increase (DAFF 2011). However, the increase in domestic food demand in Australia will be insignificant compared to the major expansion in food demand in other parts of the world, especially Asia.

Figure 5: Global grains production and trade – Australia's and China's shares
While Australia is an important global producer of wheat, average production between 2006 and 2010 of 18 million tonnes was significantly less than China’s average of 112 million tonnes.  World production averaged 669 million tonnes.  The difference between Australian and Chinese production is much greater for rice and maize (corn), partly because China grew a larger share of world production but largely because Australian production was very small (0.3 million tonnes each).  Both Australia and China are small producers of barley, although Australia’s 7 million tonnes was more than double Chinese production.
The picture is quite different for exports, with Australia selling slightly more than ten per cent of global wheat exports of 135 million tonnes while China was a net importer of about 600,000 tonnes.  For rice, China’s net exports averaged half a million tonnes while Australia imported miniscule quantities.  However, China was a net importer of one-tenth of world maize production, while exports from Australia were miniscule.  Australia exported more than 13 per cent of world net exports of barley whereas China was a net importer on average of 1.5 million tonnes.
The two graphs also show that while 20 per cent of world wheat production and nearly 18 per cent of world barley production was exported, the share was lower for maize (one-eighth of world production) and very small for rice (less than 4 per cent).
Source: FAO Database, April 2012

(II) Foreign investment in Australia’s agricultural sector

1. Foreign investment is beneficial

Australia welcomes foreign investment. Foreign capital has always supplemented domestic savings to drive employment and prosperity, including in agriculture. It can help farmers, agricultural enterprises and food processors and manufacturers diversify, become more competitive and boost incomes. It helps sustain Australia’s agricultural productivity and economic prosperity more broadly.

Foreign investment has often been associated with the introduction of new technologies or improvements in existing technologies, and improved access to markets. Direct investment in cattle raising, the use of feed-lots and processing in Australia in the 1970s and 1980s onwards contributed to the significant expansion of Australia’s beef exports to Japan and later the United States. Japanese and US companies’ investments in the development and growth of Australia’s cattle industry lifted its export competitiveness not only for the Japanese and US markets but also for other high-value markets. Similarly, significant international investment in the Australian wine industry helped improve wine production and distribution systems, and helped drive growth in wine exports to European and other markets.

The RIRDC/ABARES report Foreign Investment and Australian Agriculture (Moir 2011) concluded that foreign investment in the agricultural sector enhances Australia’s food security by increasing efficiency and productive capacity. It adds to incomes, infrastructure and employment, often in regional areas.

2. Australia is an attractive destination for foreign investment

Australia is a globally competitive location in which to do business: home to rich and abundant natural resources, a highly skilled workforce, a culture of innovation, a robust legal system and political stability. The certainty provided by Australia’s legal and political systems makes sovereign risk low. The Australian food industry enjoys a reputation as one of the world’s best for food safety and food quality. This is attracting the world’s leading food production companies to invest in the Australian market.

One factor that affects foreign investment in Australia is the barriers to imports that exist in foreign markets. These affect exports not only from Australian-owned companies, but also foreign companies that have invested in Australia. As Chinese investment in Australian agriculture increases, Chinese companies will similarly face barriers in export markets.

3. Australia’s policy on foreign investment

The Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 and Australia’s Foreign Investment Policy provide the framework for the Government to review foreign investment proposals. The Government, through the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), reviews foreign investment proposals against the national interest on a case-by-case basis. Elements of the national interest typically taken into account include: national security; competition; other Australian Government policies such as taxation; the impact on the economy and community; and the character of the investor. Generally, private sector investment above $244 million (as at 1 Jan 2012; indexed annually) is subject to review.

All proposals by foreign governments and their related entities for making a direct investment, starting a business or acquiring land are subject to review. In the case of proposals by foreign governments and their related entities, the Government also considers if the investment is commercial in nature or if the investor may be pursuing broader political or strategic objectives.

The Treasurer can block proposals that are contrary to the national interest or apply conditions to a proposal to address national interest concerns. Only two business cases have been blocked in the past ten years, one in the resources sector and one in the financial services sector. Between 2007–08 and 2010–11, no Chinese investment proposals were rejected, and around 270 were approved.

4. Foreign investment policy in the agricultural sector

The Australian Government recognises the benefits that foreign investment in the agricultural sector can bring, consistent with protecting Australia’s national interest. The Government’s 18 January 2012 Policy Statement on Foreign Investment in Agriculture provides detailed guidance on specific factors typically considered in relation to proposed acquisitions in the agricultural sector. These include the impact on:

There are concerns in some parts of the Australian community about the sale of rural land and agricultural businesses to foreign investors. Consequently, the Government has taken steps aimed at ensuring that its policy is well understood and to strengthen the transparency of foreign ownership of rural land and agricultural food production. These steps include funding the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ ongoing Agricultural Land and Water Ownership Survey and establishing a register for foreign-owned agricultural land. Transparency in foreign investment in the agriculture sector is important in providing reassurance to Australian citizens and foreign investors alike.

(III) A policy framework

The Australian Government is finalising Australia’s first-ever National Food Plan. This will be a framework that guides on-going activities within the Australian food system to ensure that Australia has a sustainable, globally competitive, resilient food supply which supports access to nutritious and affordable food. The Plan also seeks to ensure that Australia continues to be a reliable surplus food supplier to international markets as part of its contribution to global food security.

(IV) Challenges to Australia’s food supply

1. Restricted land and water resources

Although a large country, Australia’s agricultural productive base is limited and the often poor soil quality affects production. Compared with soils in the northern hemisphere, Australian soils have less organic matter, low levels of phosphorous and other nutrients, and poorer structure that results in reduced nutrient storage and water-holding capacity.

Excluding Antarctica, Australia is the driest continent, and agricultural productive capacity is affected by rainfall distribution. Long-term average annual rainfall varies from less than 300mm per year in central Australia to more than 3000mm in northern Queensland (see Map 2). Runoff into rivers is low—on average, only a tenth of this rainfall is captured in rivers or subterranean aquifers (National Water Commission 2012)—compared with a world average of 65 per cent. Substantial use of irrigation in parts of the country has placed pressure on ecosystems that also rely on the nation’s water.

Map 2: Annual average rainfall across Australia
During the 30 years covered by this map the majority of rainfall fell on the coastal regions of Australia with the highest falls in Far North Queensland and western Tasmania.  Central Australia was the driest region with little to no rainfall.
Note: based on a standard 30 year climatology record (1976–2005)
Source: Bureau of Meteorology
2. Adverse effects of climate change on agricultural production

Climate change has the potential to change agricultural productivity at a regional level. For example, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Bureau of Meteorology estimate that southern Australia will experience a decline in average rainfall in coming decades. Significant weather events such as drought, fires, floods and cyclones may increase in frequency and/or strength, with effects on annual yields. This is a major policy focus for the Australian Government. Research and development programs which can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural activity while increasing productivity and responding to the impacts of climate change are a priority.

3. Slower productivity growth

Similar to the problems experienced in other countries, a fundamental challenge for Australia is the need to respond to the recent slowing in the rate of growth of agricultural productivity.

Research by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES 2012) found that Australian farms achieved average total factor productivity growth of 1.2 per cent per annum between 1977–78 and 2009–10 (see Figure 6). This rate of productivity growth is higher than most other Australian industries. However, while the long-term trend is positive, the average growth rate has declined in the last 10 years. This decline can be partly attributed to reductions in R&D investment in the sector. Future increases in production will require positive productivity growth rates, which, in turn, will require ongoing investment in research and development (Linehan et al. 2012).

Figure 6: Trends in Australian broadacre total factor productivity, total inputs and total outputs, 1977–78 to 2009–10
(index, 1977-78 = 100)
Total factor productivity for Australian broadacre farms grew steadily from 1978 until 2000, albeit with the occasional significant fluctuation.  Since 2000 total factor productivity has declined slightly, with major drops in 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2007.
Source: ABARES 2012
4. Further investment is required in logistics and other agricultural infrastructure

Transport costs are a significant proportion of total farming costs; up to 21 per cent of the value of grains produced in Australia is spent on transport (Tulloh and Pearce 2011). Many Australian farms are located considerable distances from ports or other transport hubs and from processing plants. Weather also imposes logistical constraints: monsoonal rains mean that some roads in northern Australia are inaccessible for months each year.

5. Younger, better-skilled workers are needed

Australia faces challenges with its agricultural workforce. The average age of workers in the sector is increasing. The current mining and resources boom has exacerbated agricultural workforce pressures. It is also estimated that the number of agricultural graduates produced every year in Australia may only be one-fifth of total demand (Office of the Chief Scientist 2012). This trend is partly countered by the increase in the average size of agricultural holdings, increasing mechanisation and other technological advances. For example, a farm of approximately 1000 hectares in the Ord region of Western Australia would only need between three and six permanent staff, depending on the crops produced and farming methods. The Australian Government is examining ways to address these challenges and to encourage younger Australians into agriculture.

6. Post-harvest losses

Estimates of post-harvest losses range from 10 to 40 per cent (Keating and Carberry, cited in Moir and Morris 2011), so even a small reduction in wastage would have a positive effect on productivity. Additional government and private investment in infrastructure will be required, especially if there are shifts in where food is grown or processed as a result of changes in climate or the introduction of new technology.

Chapter 3: Investment and technological cooperation in agriculture

I. Investment in agriculture in Australia and China: the current situation and future prospects

(I) Chinese agricultural investment in Australia

1. Chinese investment in Australian agriculture is in its infancy...

Chinese investment in Australian agriculture is in its infancy, with investment projects small in number and size. According to China’s Ministry of Commerce, investment in Australian agriculture accounts for a small proportion of Chinese investment in Australia (see Figure 7). Chinese investment accounts for a small proportion of total foreign investment in Australian agriculture. According to Australian statistics, which do not provide a breakdown by sector for each country, China ranks 10th in terms of the stock of total foreign direct investment in Australia, and the stock of its investment constitutes 2.6 per cent of the total stock of foreign direct investment in Australia.

Figure 7: Chinese direct investment in Australia by sector, 2010
(US$ million)
Chinese direct investment in Australia is overwhelmingly concentrated in the mining industry.  In 2010 US$1.23 billion of total Chinese direct investment of US$1.7 billion was in the mining sector.  In only one other sector (financial services) did Chinese direct investment exceed US$94 million.  Direct investment in agriculture was only US$3.23 million.
The same was true of cumulative Chinese direct investment (i.e. the stock): by the end of 2010, US$6.4 billion had been invested in the mining sector, with no other sector exceeding US$284 million.  Direct investment in agriculture was US$22.5 million.
Source: 2010 Statistical Bulletin of China's Outward Foreign Direct Investment, China's Ministry of Commerce, National Bureau of Statistics, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange of the People’s Republic of China
2. ...but is growing...

In recent years, Chinese enterprises have had increasing interest in investing in overseas agriculture, and China’s outward investment flows to the agricultural sector have increased from US$170 million in 2008 to US$650 million in 2011 (see Figure 8).

Figure 8: Chinese foreign direct investment in agriculture, all countries, 2008–11
(US$ million)
Chinese direct investment in agriculture across all countries is growing rapidly.  In 2008 the flow was US$170 million, with a stock of US$1.47 billion.  By 2011 this was estimated to have risen to a flow of US$650 million with the stock at US$3.18 billion.
Note: the figure for 2011 is an estimate
Source: 2008–2010 statistical bulletins of China’s Outward Foreign Direct Investment, China's Ministry of Commerce, National Bureau of Statistics, and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange of the People’s Republic of China

The scale of Chinese investment in Australian agriculture and food processing is increasing. Chinese direct investment in agrifood in Australia in 2010 was US$3.23 million, with cumulative FDI (stock) of US$22.5 million (MOFCOM 2011). This increased in 2011 to US$19.5 million, with a stock of US$47.1 million (MOFCOM 2012). According to an annual survey of investment intentions, existing or planned Chinese investment in Australia amounted to about US$700 million by the end of 2011, a relatively large increase compared with 2010.

3. ...and becoming more diverse

The scope of investment is expanding to cover planting, breeding, farming, and food processors and traders (see Figure 9). As well, the range of investors is more diverse. In addition to state-owned enterprises, publicly listed and private companies have gradually become the main Chinese investors in Australia. The mode of investment is also more diverse. In addition to greenfield investment, the level of Chinese involvement in agriculture-related commercial transactions including mergers and acquisitions has increased rapidly. Finally, the location of investments is gradually expanding. Promising new areas for investment include the relatively underdeveloped areas of northern and northwest Australia.

Figure 9: Sectoral distribution of Chinese direct investment in Australian agriculture
Chinese direct investment in Australian agriculture is divided between agrifood trade 29 per cent, farming 28 per cent, agrifood processing 24 per cent and animal husbandry 19 per cent.
Note: Direct investment projects according to market research data for statistical analysis, 2011
Source: Market research data provided to MOFCOM

(II) Australia’s current agricultural investment in China

Australia’s total stock of FDI across all sectors in China was $6.4 billion in 2011. Although neither Australian nor Chinese data record Australian agrifood investment in China, anecdotal evidence suggests it is growing, albeit from a very small base. Increasing food demand in China has given rise to significant commercial opportunities. Agrifood investment is believed to constitute only a small fraction of Australia’s total FDI in China. Currently, Australian agrifood investment in China is developing around two main industry subsectors:

Sales of agrifood products
A number of Australian companies have invested in China in order to expand their sales of agrifood products in the Chinese market, including Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co. Ltd and Goodman Fielder.

Agribusiness services
Other companies such as Nufarm, Elders and Toll Group are providing logistical and other agribusiness services, all aimed at the Chinese market. As well, a number of Australian financial sector firms, including the Australian and New Zealand Banking Corporation (ANZ) and the National Australia Bank are providing banking services to Chinese agribusiness firms. As China’s rural areas are currently underserviced in terms of financial services, ANZ established the Chongqing Liangping ANZ Rural Bank in September 2009. The rural bank, which focuses on agricultural-related business in the local area, is now profitable with a solid customer base, providing the company with experience in China’s rural business sector and allowing it to tap into the many business opportunities arising from the region’s rapid growth.

Australian investment in China is not limited to Australian-owned companies. Some Australian subsidiaries of foreign firms have already invested in different parts of China’s agricultural and food sector.

There are many reasons for the relatively limited levels of investment by Australian firms in China’s agrifood sector. In general, few Australian agrifood businesses invest offshore, reflecting the structure of the sector with its predominance of smaller, family-owned farms and the increasing prominence of foreign-owned food processors.

(III) Prospects for strengthening agricultural investment

The sustainability of agriculture is significant for Australia, China and the world. Both Australia and China have issues that need to be addressed in order to improve sustainability.

Cooperation between Australia and China will benefit both Australian and Chinese producers. Continued investment will help them remain competitive and sustainable food producers. Success in resolving these problems, especially in sectors such as dryland farming, can be shared with other countries, enabling Australia and China to contribute to global food security.

There are a number of areas where increased investment could deliver potential benefits by expanding production or improving productivity.

1. Developing water and soil resources in northern Australia

Australia’s main traditional agricultural zone (the south-east of the continent) is relatively well-developed. Agricultural production here can be increased by improving efficiency. Northern Australia, with its tropical climate and significant land and water resources, has significant potential for productive large-scale development. It may become a new growth area in Australian agriculture, although considerable further research and commercial-scale demonstration is required.

2. Commercialising proprietary technology and new varieties

Successfully commercialising potential proprietary technologies and new varieties of crops and breeds of animals of both countries, with appropriate intellectual property protection, would deliver considerable economic benefits. Potential projects include the artificial propagation of aquaculture products like Australian lobsters, cultivation of quality embryos, and soil reclamation. China's equipment andagriculture technology also have good prospects for application in Australia.

3. Processing agrifood products

Many of Australia's agricultural products are exported with no or limited processing. With improved infrastructure in logistics and processing, there will be more opportunities for further processing of agricultural products. China's agricultural production mainly comes from small-scale operations, which have a lower level of business organisation, and are less able to process food. Considering the domestic requirements in both countries for processing, convenience, food safety and traceability, as well as international requirements, it is also necessary to increase investment and cooperation in agricultural processing and further promote the production and processing ability of both countries.

4. Modern supply-chain logistics

As the movement of agricultural products increases, both countries would benefit from increased investment in cold chain, warehouse and logistics infrastructure, including ports, related infrastructure, and transport and distribution networks. Increased bilateral trade would increase logistical efficiency and lower logistics costs for the movement of food between Australia and China.

II. Current cooperation between Australia and China in agricultural technology and future opportunities

(I) China’s agricultural technology level

1. Recent achievements and current levels of agricultural technology

The continuing development of agricultural technology is fundamental to ensuring national food security. In terms of agricultural scientific and technological research, the Chinese Government has carried out a series of programs that adapt such research to China's mode of intensive cultivation. They aim to increase output, centering on the basic goal of meeting the food demand of a huge population with limited agricultural resources. Such programs include, for example, research projects on breeding various crops and associated agricultural skills and machinery; livestock and poultry breeding programs and associated animal nutrition; and environmental control of plant growth, disease control and research. This has produced some strong results, for example, lifting the yield per hectare of several of China’s staple crops, namely wheat (4.7 tonnes per hectare), corn (5.5 tonnes per hectare), rice (6.6 tonnes per hectare) and seed cotton (2.1 tonnes per hectare), accounting for 158 per cent, 105 per cent, 150 per cent and 174 per cent of the world average.

Inside a high-tech greenhouse a variety of plants are cultivated using hydroponic methods.
Hydroponic cultivation, Yangling

China has made breakthroughs in many research fields, which have contributed to world food security. For example:

On the application of agricultural technologies, China closely follows world agricultural technological developments, and has made outstanding achievements in many fields:

A young Chinese researcher explains to delegation members the work being done by a lab-coated female colleague.
The Australian delegation visiting an agricultural research facility in Anhui
2. New requirements in agricultural technology development

Though China has rapidly developed agricultural technologies and made outstanding achievements in many fields, there are still some gaps, mainly reflected in the following aspects:

(II) Australia’s agricultural technology level

Australian governments have long invested in agricultural research and innovation, and Australian researchers have a record of world-class scientific results. A recent report by the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE) found that Australia’s agricultural and biological sciences are its most specialised area of research relative to the rest of the world. Australian research in this field also has a citation rate above the world average (DIISRTE 2012).

Australia’s agricultural expertise mainly includes the following areas:

Sustainable agriculture
This includes techniques and technology that improve soil condition, water quality and biodiversity outcomes and reduce the impacts of invasive species. The sustainable practices promoted include controlled traffic farming (confining the impact of machinery wheels to permanent intra-crop lanes), systems to increase perennial vegetation in pastures and conserving native vegetation. Precision agriculture technologies can be used in both dryland and irrigated agriculture.

Low-carbon farming
Australia’s Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) is the first federally legislated agriculture and forestry offset market in the world. It covers a broad range of eligible offset activities for sequestering carbon in vegetation and soils and reducing agricultural emissions of methane and nitrous oxide.

Plant genetic resources
Australia’s major seed banks, which in total comprise 184,000 documented samples, hold unique genetic resource collections. The germplasm from the seedbanks is available to international researchers and breeders as well as Australian users. In April 2012 Australia consolidated its grains genetic resources to maintain access to, and preserve, the resources.

Plant biotechnologies, including genetic modification (GM), have been widely applied in Australia. GM cotton has been grown in Australia since 1996 and now makes up virtually all cotton plantings. Commercial plantings of GM canola commenced in some states in 2008.

Genetic research
Australia’s genomic technologies and tools of livestock industries are advanced. Drawing on its expertise in multi-chromosome technology, Australia developed and now uses a modern genetic evaluation system (BREEDPLAN) for beef cattle.

Biosecurity research
Plant and animal disease control and capacity building, including the strengthening of plant health and veterinary services, can have major benefits to health and food security, as well as to productivity at the farm level. Australian scientists have provided assistance to improve the response to pandemics and emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) in the Southeast Asian region, including through the development of national pandemic preparedness plans, strengthening of systems of early detection, surveillance, prevention and control of EIDs including transboundary animal diseases (e.g. foot and mouth disease) and zoonoses.

Australia has established and implements stringent pest and disease control programs that accommodate the changing biosecurity and agricultural environment. For example, advanced technology is used to monitor and control novel production pests and diseases affecting Australian eucalypts and acacia trees.

Australian farmers and agrifood producers have also been successful in improving the way farms and agribusinesses organise, manage, operate, and market their products. But in the agrifood sector, Australia has not been as successful as it might be in commercialising innovation, both research and in the way farms and firms operate.

(III) Australia–China technological cooperation in agriculture

Agricultural cooperation is already an important part of the Australia–China bilateral relationship. The partnership in agriculture is built on common interests as well as growing commercial agrifood links. Agricultural cooperation pre-dates the formal bilateral relationship, which commenced in 1972, having started in 1960 with trade in wheat.

A herd of white goats with brown necks and heads graze under unusually clear, and deep blue skies.
Goats in Yunnan bred from Australian breeding stock

Current and past cooperation in agricultural technology has enhanced technological progress in China’s agriculture and improved the environment. Poverty alleviation projects have played an active part in alleviating the poverty of central and western China. Dialogues and exchanges have allowed governments, technological institutions and businesses to deepen their communication and broaden their strategic vision. Research cooperation has led to improvements in both Australia’s and China’s standard of agricultural research. In addition, government-to-government cooperation has played a significant role in promoting bilateral trade in agricultural products.

Since the 1980s, Australia and China have signed a number of key agreements to establish formal agricultural cooperation mechanisms.

A herd of cattle are grazing in a lush green pasture.
Cattle in Yunnan bred from Australian breeding stock

Under their agricultural technological cooperation framework, Australia and China have moved away from the agricultural assistance projects of the past towards mutually beneficial cooperation in advanced agricultural technology. Scientific agricultural research cooperation with China delivers direct benefits to Australian agriculture (ACIAR 2011). Australia–China co-authorship of publications in the agricultural sciences grew about eightfold between 2002 and 2010, making China now Australia’s second-highest national source of collaboration in agricultural science (Office of the Chief Scientist 2012).

CSIRO and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) undertake a significant amount of collaboration across all fields of science. Through an agreement with the Chinese Ministry of Education’s China Scholarships Council, CSIRO hosts between 20 and 40 Chinese PhD and postdoctoral students, many conducting research in the agricultural area. CSIRO also has a number of active Memorandums of Understanding with various universities and research organisations conducting research activities in the agricultural area. These include the China Agricultural University, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science and the State Bureau of Mapping and Surveying.

Australia and China currently collaborate on agricultural R&D through the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) program. The CRC program supports medium- to long-term end-user-driven research collaborations, many of which are world-leading. Chinese institutions and businesses are currently working with CRCs in diverse areas including agriculture, biosecurity and the environment. In 2010–11, eleven CRCs reported 28 separate collaborative alliances in China.

The priority areas of CSIRO and CAS

Under the Joint Steering Committee’s “Agriculture and Crop Breeding Technology” stream, one of four priority areas for collaboration, CSIRO and CAS are co-funding two joint projects: one on parental gene memories and their role in regulating rice endosperm development and grain size, and the other  on ‘‘genome-wide sequence strategies for gene discovery in wheat’’. Since their commencement in 2010 these joint projects are already demonstrating significant results. In the longer term, this research could lead to an improvement in agricultural productive capacity in both Australia and China.

Developing more effective water use by rain-fed wheat in Australia and China

Wheat is a major food staple in Australia and China. In both Australia and north-western China, conservation farming practices are being promoted as an important component of more-sustainable farming systems. CSIRO has been achieving considerable breeding success for dry land wheat in Australia by targeting specific traits that make more effective use of available water. Some of these traits have also been shown to improve adaptation of wheat to conservation farming practices. This project, led by CSIRO and ACIAR on the Australian side, aims to extend this breeding success to north-western China by working with leading breeding programs for dry land wheat in north-western China, based at Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University, Yangling, Shaanxi province, and Ningxia Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Science, Yinchuan, Ningxia province.

The new varieties being developed by the breeding program need to be commercialised and their use promoted. Agronomic services (soil health, plant nutrition, and pest and weed management) could be promoted at the same time.

(IV) Future opportunities

Tropical Rock Lobster Hatchery Project

Strong demand for rock lobsters (or spiny lobsters) globally cannot be met in the long term by capture in the wild. Australian research is at the leading edge in rearing rock lobsters in the artificial environment. Queensland researchers are assisting south-east Asian countries (notably Vietnam and Indonesia) to improve their grow-out capability with support from ACIAR.

The Queensland Government is seeking investment to establish commercial production of juvenile rock lobster in Queensland for grow-out and supply to the Chinese food market.

Strengthening research cooperation to respond to the problem of grassland degradation

Globally, grasslands are undergoing considerable change with steep rises in human and livestock populations resulting in degradation that threatens the livelihoods of millions of poor people. Addressing grasslands problems is now a priority of the Chinese Government, as reflected in dramatically increased policy attention, funding and research related to grasslands.

An ACIAR project in Inner Mongolia has shown that stocking rates can be reduced sustainably by 45 to 65 per cent while at the same time enabling an average 50 per cent gain in net household income. This research—which draws on experiences in Australia—is being replicated by partner Chinese research agencies in multiple locations with similar results emerging.

Building on these results, the research will now attempt to develop market-based mechanisms that would provide incentives for millions of herders to make the transition to lower stocking rates and improved livelihoods. If successful, Australia and China could collaborate in sharing the results of the research with other countries.

Chapter 4: Challenges in Australia–China investment and technological cooperation in agriculture

Potential investors and researchers from both Australia and China have identified concerns about government policies and other factors that affect their willingness to invest and collaborate. These concerns may be unwarranted, but still need to be taken into account by governments in both countries in order to improve the two-way flow of capital and creativity, increase understanding and mutual trust, and remove perceived obstacles to investment and to collaboration in agricultural technology.

I. Challenges encountered by Chinese companies in investment and technological cooperation in Australia

(I) Challenges in agricultural investment

Chinese investors are highly enthusiastic about investing in Australia, but they have concerns about the following impediments that they perceive regarding investment in Australian agriculture.

1. Perceived risks in obtaining government approval for foreign investment

In Australia’s Foreign Investment Policy (released in January 2012), the Australian Government stated that foreign investment should be in line with Australian national interests and should be transparent and made on a commercial basis. Some Chinese investors perceive that this policy is not sufficiently clear and gives the Australian Government extremely high discretion in approving investment projects. Although the investment volume from China is far below that from countries such as Japan and the USA, there is an impression that mergers and acquisitions involving capital from China often encounter opposition and obstruction from some social organisations and the media. This perception of unfair treatment affects the confidence and enthusiasm of some Chinese enterprises that are considering investing in Australia.

2. Delayed return on investment and risks of excessive ‘green tape’

Some Chinese investors believe that the poor level of infrastructure in remote areas of Australia means that any agricultural investment projects involving water and land resource development in those areas would require significant capital investment, such as in irrigation systems and roads. They conclude that Australian production methods in some sectors may result in lower agricultural productivity than in China, which could result in a lower return on investment—and over a longer period—than that of a comparable investment in China. This may dampen the enthusiasm of investors. In addition, for agricultural land and water resources development projects, they believe the complexity surrounding Australian federal and state governments’ environmental protection regulations can delay or hamper potential investment.

3. Concern about abour force restrictions

Some Chinese investors note that the Australian agricultural zone is sparsely populated and lacks a sufficient local labour force, which results in high labour costs. They are concerned that this makes it hard for enterprises to employ suitable labour and technicians in the early production and operational stages of a venture; and about Australia's migration policy, under which it is difficult to obtain work visas for overseas labour. Some Chinese investors consider that this could have a negative impact on investment projects.

4. Perceived lack of effective ways to obtain information about investment in Australia

Some Chinese investors worry that Chinese entities generally have a limited understanding about Australia’s investment environment and legal system, especially with regard to: the regulatory framework; market access; agricultural land policy; water resource management; and environment protection. This incomplete understanding can result in difficulties in carrying out investment projects. This in turn affects the decision-making of entities intending to invest in Australia.

(II) Challenges in technological cooperation in agriculture

Because Australia and China practice different farming and livestock management techniques, the two countries have different targets for developing breeding and cultivation technologies. Owing to a lack of adaptive improvement and follow-up services, direct imports of technology or varieties from Australia often do not result in the outcomes that are expected by Chinese researchers. This problem has been experienced in recent years with the import of high-quality animal and plant varieties, including those intended to improve Chinese livestock breeding stock.

II. Challenges encountered by Australian companies in investment and technological cooperation in China

(I) Challenges in agricultural investment

Australian firms are cautious about direct investment in agriculture in China, and they have concerns about the following impediments.

1. Perceived risks of the policy environment and regulatory oversight

Some Australian investors have concerns about perceived risks associated with China’s policy environment and regulatory oversight when making direct investments in China, including: China’s restrictions on foreign investment in some areas; insufficient protection of intellectual property (IP); the transparency of China’s law enforcement if disputes need to be resolved; and the approvals processes required for repatriating profits.

2. Land ownership and security of tenure

Some Australian investors have concerns about access to land. China’s agricultural land is collectively owned, and investors can only have land-use rights rather than ownership. At present, China’s agricultural land can only be leased and sub-leased in most cases, so land-use terms may be changed as required by the owners, some of whom do not have a strong concept of legal restraints to lease termination or transfer.

3. The development of agribusiness logistics

Some Australian firms are concerned that agribusiness logistics are still at an early stage of development in China, and they consider that the logistics of agricultural enterprises are imperfect and so increase the cost of logistics.

4. Enforcement of food quality regulations needs to be strengthened

Some Australian firms are concerned that consumers, both local and in many overseas markets, lack confidence in the labels of locally produced food, affecting export opportunities as well as local sales.

5. Concerns about the market for transferring rural land-use rights

Some Australian investors are concerned about the complexity of China’s system of rural land contracting and managing rights, and the transfer of rural land-use rights (noting, however, that the ownership of the land cannot be transferred). They feel that the market for transferring rural land-use rights is underdeveloped.

(II) Challenges in technological cooperation in agriculture

Researchers in Australia generally view China as a favourable country for technical cooperation, particularly in agriculture, due to the country’s rising science investment and capacity, and the increasing number of international cooperation schemes and frameworks. Opportunities for collaboration are likely to increase through the use of new technologies. Despite this, some research organisations and firms and their researchers within Australia’s innovation system continue to perceive concerns about collaboration with China. These include:

III. Addressing these challenges

The perceptions outlined above indicate that the main barrier to greater Australian and Chinese cooperation in agriculture is a mutual lack of understanding of each country’s legal and regulatory frameworks, technical capacities and cultural norms. This barrier will take time, patience and determination to break down. Governments on both sides can play their part by enhancing the transparency of investment decisions and by facilitating deeper networks among the commercial and research sectors. A number of the recommendations in Chapter 6 address these perceptions.

Chapter 5: Priorities for Australia–China investment and technological cooperation in agriculture

Investment in either Australia or China that leads to new agrifood productive capacity or enhances productivity will contribute to meeting both countries’ domestic demand and, as importantly, demand in third countries, thus helping address global food security challenges. Similarly, technological cooperation can expand the opportunities for productivity-enhancing innovation that can be commercialised. Australia and China have identified a number of opportunities for cooperation that could improve productivity and expand production.

I. Investment

(I) Opportunities for Chinese investment in Australia

Chinese enterprises have good opportunities for investment in agriculture, including:

Northern Australia: A promising region for agrifood development

Northern Australia is a promising region for agrifood investment. It is a relatively underdeveloped area of Australia that is located close to Asia and near important trade hubs. There is considerable scope to use land in northern Australia more efficiently and sustainably. Investment—in R&D, infrastructure, and agrifood production, processing and distribution—has the potential to deliver considerable productivity increases for cattle, sugar and other crops. This would expand production in Australia for local and overseas markets. Some potentially sensitive issues will need managing, such as indigenous land-use rights and environmental management. Investors may need to introduce agricultural techniques and technology that are new to the region.

Map 3: The Ord, Flinders and Gilbert Rivers of northern Australia
This map shows the location of three rivers in northern Australia where the area under irrigation is expanding: the Ord River in northern Western Australia near the border with the Northern Territory, and the Flinders and Gilbert Rivers, both of which are in northern Queensland and flow into the Gulf of Carpentaria.

To be successful in northern Australia, a number of challenges need to be overcome. These include adequate access to water and productive soil, the large size of many rangeland cattle properties, the long distances between farms and ports, and, in some places, insufficient infrastructure.

Additional investment could lead to changes in the cattle industry, a mainstay in the region. This is currently based on the export of live animals that have been reared using natural feed. Expanding cattle numbers will require an increase in the supply of feed. Researchers are examining whether mosaic irrigation—small, dispersed areas of irrigated land intended to incorporate pastures and crops onto existing cattle farms—can be an effective “alternative to traditional large-scale, contiguous irrigation systems” (Paydar et. al. 2007). With additional investment in infrastructure, including one or more abattoirs in northern Australia, the region could export chilled beef. This would require export accreditation by authorities in both Australia and importing countries.

Excess water flowing over the spillway.
Kununurra diversion dam, Ord River Irrigation Area

Within northern Australia, a number of regional development projects are already underway or under consideration. The Ord-East Kimberley Expansion Project is a $506 million expansion (taking into account federal and state government funding) of the Ord River irrigation scheme. So far 15,200 hectares of future agricultural land has been released, more than doubling the area of irrigated land. (On 20 November 2012, the Western Australian Government announced a Chinese company as the preferred proponent to lease and develop 13,400 hectares under the Ord-East Kimberley Expansion Project, with an estimated 1,700 hectares available to other producers.) Further expansion of the irrigation area, potentially by as much as 22,000 hectares, is under consideration.

One of the newly constructed channels in the western part of the expansion project.
Irrigation channel, Ord-East Kimberley Expansion Project

Elsewhere in Western Australia, the state government is expanding irrigation in the Carnarvon area. This will increase the area of irrigated land by up to 600 hectares. It is also working on a pilot project in the Pilbara to use for irrigation the groundwater that has been extracted during the process of open-cut mining (a process called ‘mine dewatering’). The Pilbara pilot project will provide much needed information on the potential for irrigated agriculture opportunities in the Pilbara region. If results are favourable there is the potential for further joint State, Commonwealth and Chinese investment in development expansion. As well, Rio Tinto is looking to use groundwater from mine dewatering to cultivate hay on a 1,600 hectare area near one of its iron ore mines.

The North Queensland Irrigated Agriculture Strategy is a joint federal–state project assessing the potential for new irrigated agriculture. It is focused on an assessment of the potential for new irrigated agriculture in the Flinders and Gilbert basins in north-west Queensland. Under the project, CSIRO will test the long-term commercial viability and sustainability of a range of irrigated agriculture opportunities, including cotton, and assess potential environmental, economic and cultural impacts and risks under different climate and development scenarios. This work commenced in January 2012 and will conclude in December 2013.

Federal, state and territory governments have recognised the need for close coordination to manage the sustainable development of northern Australia. The Northern Australia Ministerial Forum, established in December 2010, is chaired by the Commonwealth Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, and includes ministers from Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory responsible for regional development in northern Australia.

(II) Opportunities for Australian investment in China

A major opportunity exists for Australian firms to provide services that will be in growing demand in connection with China’s rapidly changing agrifood sector and which can improve productivity or expand agricultural production.

1. Distribution, logistics and supply-chain management

The demand in China for modern distribution services and more effectively managed supply-chains, especially for refrigerated products, is growing. As the change in food shopping and consumption patterns accelerates toward a greater use of modern supermarkets and hypermarkets, the volume of food that is transported in China will grow markedly. This will require a high emphasis on timeliness, safety and high quality in food logistics.

2. Rural banking

In relation to the financing difficulty of smaller Chinese agribusiness firms and individual farmers, Australian financial service providers may be able to fill the gap. Some are already doing so in some regions in China.

3. Land remediation

The encroachment of cities and industrial zones onto farmland is a challenge for the Chinese Government. To maintain the amount of arable land, local governments at all levels will need to reclaim land previously used for activities such as dumping waste or mining—and this land will need to be remediated before it can be reclaimed for agricultural production. There would appear to be an opportunity for Australian firms who can provide these land remediation services to China. Australian firms have considerable expertise in the remediation of land used for mining land. New technologies make land remediation possible in two to three years.

4. Construction of Australian demonstration projects

Australian investors may find it advantageous to develop demonstration projects in China, either alone or with Chinese collaborators, to highlight Australian expertise in one or more of the following areas:

5. Direct investment projects to meet requirements of Chinese customers

To respond to changing consumer preferences in China, Australian companies could explore opportunities to develop enterprises to raise dairy cattle and process dairy products, especially whey and cheese.

Current status and investment opportunities for the industrial development of agriculture in Shanghai, Shandong, Anhui and Shaanxi

The Shanghai Municipal area is located in the Yangtze River estuary in the middle section of the coastline of the Chinese mainland. It has a total area of 6,340 square kilometres. The city vigorously develops urban modern agriculture integrating multiple functions such as production, ecology and lifestyle. In 2010, the value of output from agriculture, forestry and fisheries in Shanghai was 28.7 billion yuan ($4.4 billion). Shanghai made outstanding achievements in full-process control and supervision of the quality and safety of agricultural products. Shanghai will promote biological products, industrial-scale planting, intensive processing of agricultural products, greater use of information and other new technology in agriculture; develop a cyclic agricultural economy, popularise precision seeding and adopt combined planting and breeding, sustained resource utilisation and other ecological planting and breeding models; and actively promote an agricultural product processing industry, a modern seed industry, a circulation service industry and leisure agriculture.

Shandong Province is located on the eastern coast of China and in the lower reaches of the Yellow River. It has a total area of 156,700 square kilometres. It is one of China’s most important grain production provinces and is also one of the main production areas of cotton, peanuts, vegetables, fruit and aquatic products. In 2010, the value of output from agriculture, forestry and fisheries in the province was 665.1 billion yuan ($101 billion). Shandong gives enormous support to scientific research and innovation for grains, breeding fine varieties, popularising agricultural technologies, mechanising agriculture, and establishing a disaster prevention and reduction system and an agricultural eco-environment protection system. It actively promotes the construction of modern agriculture demonstration parks and accelerates the development of efficient, ecological high-end, high-quality agriculture, and ecological and recycling agriculture.

Anhui Province is located in the southeast of China. It has a total area of about 139,000 square kilometres. It is one of China’s most important grain production provinces. In 2010, the value of output from agriculture, forestry and fisheries in the province was 295.5 billion yuan ($45.1 billion). Anhui actively promotes the development of its seed industry, cultivating and strengthening animal husbandry, aquatic products, vegetable and other leading industries; is vigorously developing corn and japonica rice production, processing of coarse food grain, fine processing and feed processing; and accelerates the development of urban efficient agriculture and actively develops dryland farming and water-saving agriculture, facility agriculture and ecological agriculture.

Shaanxi Province is located in the hinterland of China and the middle reaches of the Yellow River. It has a total area of 205,600 square kilometres. The province has four large agricultural areas: Guanzhong Plain, where dryland farming is dominant; the north Shaanxi area, where extensive cultivation, extensive dryland farming and animal husbandry prevail; Hanzhong Basin in south Shaanxi, enjoying a lasting reputation of “a land flowing with milk and honey”; and the Qinling Mountain area. In 2010, the value of output from agriculture, forestry and fisheries for the province was 166.6 billion yuan ($25.4 billion). Shaanxi supports the role of the Yangling Agricultural Hi-tech Industries Demonstration Zone, focuses on four major sectors including grain, fruit, livestock and vegetable, attaches importance to promoting the development of selection and breeding of fine agricultural varieties, water-saving irrigation, new-type planting, popularisation of science and technology, machine application, and meteorological disaster monitoring and early warning systems, steadily develops vegetable facilities, improves the modern agricultural industrial system and strengthens the development of agricultural product processing, storage and transport systems.

Demonstrating how to utilise agricultural resources efficiently: the Shouguang model for agricultural development

Shouguang, located in the centre of Shandong Peninsula, has an area of 2,180 square kilometres, and a permanent population of more than one million. In 2011, the gross output value of farming, forestry, animal husbandry and fishery of Shouguang reached almost 7.3 billion yuan ($1.1 billion). Shougang has a crop planting area of 1.4 million mu (about 93,333 hectares) and a total output of 663,000 tonnes; and a vegetable and fruit planting area of 856,000 mu (more than 57,000 hectares) and total output of 4.4 million tonnes. It has introduced 57 investment projects with a total investment of 1.1 billion yuan ($168 million). Shouguang has become one of China’s major vegetable distribution centres with a total annual transaction volume of more than 5.2 million tonnes and a transaction value of more than 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion).

Inside a low-technology greenhouse a large number of trees are being cultivated.  Tens of thousands of these greenhouses have been built in recent years.
Fruit trees being cultivated in greenhouses in Shouguang

By developing greenhouses, three-dimensional planting and counter-seasonal production, Shouguang has effectively conserved arable land, while improving the land utilisation and output rate. Agricultural technologies, efficient cultivation, and water and fertiliser control have played an important role in Shouguang’s vegetable production, with the result that unit production has increased by five to ten times, significantly increasing the land output rate. Today Shouguang has promoted more than 300 kinds of new technologies such as greenhouse drip irrigation, more than 1,000 new varieties and more than 30 new planting techniques, with about 95 per cent of farms using advanced technology and 98 per cent using improved varieties. The contribution of technical progress to agricultural growth reached 67 per cent.

II. Technological cooperation

Priority areas where further bilateral cooperation would be desirable include:

Research and commercialisation of sorghum gene varieties

The Queensland Government is looking at ways to partner with China to identify the most resilient gene varieties of sorghum for growth in marginal climatic/land conditions and for mainstream food production. Sorghum is a gluten-free grain. Due to its drought tolerance and adaptation attributes, sorghum can be grown in those areas where agricultural and environmental conditions are unfavourable for the production of other crops.

Major components of this research could include:

Establish a platform for Australia-China united study on agriculture in arid and semi-arid areas

Yangling Agricultural Industries Demonstration Zone (Yangling Demonstration Zone) is located in the centre of Guanzhong Plain, Shaanxi Province, covering an area of 135 square kilometres in total. It is a state-level agricultural high-tech demonstration zone, crowned as China’s Agricultural Science City. Relying on the academic forces of the Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University and other scientific institutions, Yangling Demonstration Zone has made great achievements in dry land crop cultivation, animal and plant genetic breeding, soil and water preservation and ecological restoration, plant protection, prevention and cure of important animal epidemic diseases, and other fields.

In 2011 the gross output value of farming, forestry, animal husbandry and fishery in Yangling Demonstration Zone reached 877 million yuan ($134 million). In the past five years, Yangling Demonstration Zone has: delivered more than 2,400 technical results and patent applications; introduced 15.7 billion yuan ($2.4 billion) of investment in total; set up more than 260 demonstration and promotion bases covering an area of 45 million mu (3 million hectares) and created demonstration and promotional benefits of more than 12 billion yuan ($1.8 billion); and promoted more than 1,000 practical technologies and new breeds, allowing for the development of industries of improved varieties of crops, vegetables, seedlings, breeding of improved varieties of pig and meat cattle, flowers, edible fungus, commercial forests and orchards and a batch of industrial chains.

The recently constructed display centre is a high ceilinged building that functions like a greenhouse.
Joint High-Technology Display Centre, Yangling

In addition, Yangling has successfully held 18 sessions of agricultural high-tech fairs. At the 18th Agricultural High-tech Fair, a total of 1,750 exhibition booths were set up, displaying more than 7,500 high-tech results, attracting about 1.6 million people from 30 countries and regions. At the fair, a total of 56.6 billion yuan ($8.6 billion) of investment and commercial transactions were concluded.

Chapter 6: Conclusions and recommendations to ministers

I. Conclusions

In undertaking this study, Australia and China have been guided by the overarching principle of cooperation for mutual advantage. It is our conclusion that Australia-China cooperation in agriculture has a sound foundation and bright future prospects. Further enhancing bilateral cooperation in investment, agricultural resources development, technological innovation and agrifood services will improve agricultural productivity in both countries and contribute to improving global food security.

Our overall objective is to establish a best-practice approach to Australia–China cooperation in:

A number of factors make it important to agree on clear guiding principles at the outset of this new cooperative partnership between Australia and China. Investment in agribusiness is an inherently long-term venture with few opportunities for large short-term gains. Success requires complex policy coordination at various levels of government in both countries, as well as enhancing public awareness and understanding of the benefits of foreign investment.

These guiding principles can be summarised as follows:

II. Recommendations

(I) Investment

(II) Technological and services cooperation

(III) Joint consultative mechanisms

Statistical annex

1. Agriculture in China

Note that China uses ten thousand (104) and one hundred million (108) as standard quantities whereas Australia uses one thousand (103), one million (106) and one billion (109).

(1) Basic overview
Total land area (10,000 km2) 960
Cultivated land (10,000 hectares) 12,172
Grass land (10,000 hectares) 33,100
Area of sea (10,000 km2) 473
Length of coastline (km) 32,000
Water resources (100 million m3) 30,906
Population (10,000 people) 134,735
Agrifood enterprises 378,711

Note: China has no official statistics for arable land; the international and Chinese definitions of arable land are basically the same.
Sources: China Statistical Yearbook, 2011 and China Basic Statistical Units Yearbook, 2011

(2) Total output and composition of farming, forestry, animal husbandry and fisheries
(100 million yuan)
Year Gross output value
Total Farming Forestry Animal husbandry Fisheries
2002 27,390.8 14,931.5 1,033.5 8,454.6 2,971.1
2003 29,691.8 14,870.1 1,239.9 9,538.8 3,137.6
2004 36,239.0 18,138.4 1,327.1 12,173.8 3,605.6
2005 39,450.9 19,613.4 1,425.5 13,310.8 4,016.1
2006 40,810.8 21,522.3 1,610.8 12,083.9 3,970.5
2007 48,893.0 24,658.1 1,861.6 16,124.9 4,457.5
2008 58,002.2 28,044.2 2,152.9 20,583.6 5,203.4
2009 60,361.0 30,777.5 2,193.0 19,468.4 5,626.4
2010 69,319.8 36,941.1 2,595.5 20,825.7 6,422.4
2011 81,303.9 41,988.6 3,120.7 25,770.7 7,568.0

Sources: China Statistical Yearbook, 2011 and the outline of China Statistical Yearbook, 2012

(3) Number of agrifood enterprises (2010)
Agriculture, forestry and fishery 185,917
Agriculture 64,756
Forestry 18,843
Animal husbandry 65,989
Fishery 13,983
Service activities for agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fishery 22,346
Manufacturing 192,764
Processing of food from agricultural products 108,825
Manufacture of foods 46,556
Manufacture of beverages 37,383

Source: China Basic Statistical Units Yearbook, 2011

(4) Output of major farm products
(10,000 tonnes)
Year Grain Sugarcane Fruits
Total grain Cereal Beans Tubers
Total cereal Rice Wheat Corn
2002 45,705.8 39,798.7 17,453.9 9,029.0 12,130.8 2,241.2 3,665.9 9,010.7 6,952.0
2003 43,069.5 37,428.7 16,065.6 8,648.8 11,583.0 2,127.5 3,513.3 9,023.5 14,517.4
2004 46,946.9 41,157.2 17,908.8 9,195.2 13,028.7 2,232.1 3,557.7 8,984.9 15,340.9
2005 48,402.2 42,776.0 18,058.8 9,744.5 13,936.5 2,157.7 3,468.5 8,663.8 16,120.1
2006 49,804.2 45,099.2 18,171.8 10,846.6 15,160.3 2,003.7 2,701.3 9,709.2 17,102.0
2007 50,160.3 45,632.4 18,603.4 10,929.8 15,230.0 1,720.1 2,807.8 11,295.1 18,136.3
2008 52,870.9 47,847.4 19,189.6 11,246.4 16,591.4 2,043.3 2,980.2 12,415.2 19,220.2
2009 53,082.1 48,156.3 19,510.3 11,511.5 16,397.4 1,930.3 2,995.5 11,558.7 20,395.5
2010 54,647.7 49,637.1 19,576.1 11,518.1 17,724.5 1,896.5 3,114.1 11,078.9 21,401.4
2011 57,120.8 51,939.4 20,100.1 11,740.1 19,278.1 1,908.4 3,273.0 12,516.5 22,768.2

Sources: China Statistical Yearbook, 2011 and the outline of China Statistical Yearbook, 2012

(5) Output of major livestock products
(10,000 tonnes)
Year Meat Milk Poultry/eggs Honey
Total Pork/beef/mutton Pork Beef Mutton Total Cows’ milk
2002 6,234.3 4,928.4 4,123.1 521.9 283.5 1,400.4 1,299.8 2,265.7 26.5
2003 6,443.3 5,089.8 4,238.6 542.5 308.7 1,848.6 1,746.3 2,333.1 28.9
2004 6,608.7 5,234.3 4,341.0 560.4 332.9 2,368.4 2,260.6 2,370.6 29.3
2005 6,938.9 5,473.5 4,555.3 568.1 350.1 2,864.8 2,753.4 2,438.1 29.3
2006 7,089.0 5,591.0 4,650.5 576.7 363.8 3,302.5 3,193.4 2,424.0 33.3
2007 6,865.7 5,283.8 4,287.8 613.4 382.6 3,633.4 3,525.2 2,529.0 35.4
2008 7,278.7 5,614.0 4,620.5 613.2 380.3 3,781.5 3,555.8 2,702.2 40.0
2009 7,649.7 5,915.7 4,890.8 635.5 389.4 3,677.7 3,518.8 2,742.5 40.2
2010 7,925.8 6,123.1 5,071.2 653.1 398.9 3,748.0 3,575.6 2,762.7 40.1
2011 7,957.8 6,093.7 5,053.1 647.5 393.1 3,810.7 3,657.8 2,811.4 43.1

Sources: China Statistical Yearbook, 2011 and the outline of China Statistical Yearbook, 2012

(6) Output of major aquatic products
(10,000 tonnes)
Year Total Saltwater aquatic products Fresh water aquatic products
Total Wildcatch Farmed Total Wildcatch Farmed
2002 3,954.9 2,298.5 1,238.0 1,060.5 1,656.4 194.7 1,461.7
2003 4,077.0 2,332.8 1,237.0 1,095.9 1,744.2 213.3 1,530.9
2004 4,246.6 2,404.5 1,253.2 1,151.3 1,842.1 209.6 1,632.5
2005 4,419.9 2,465.9 1,255.1 1,210.8 1,954.0 221.0 1,733.0
2006 4,583.6 2,509.6 1,245.4 1,264.2 2,074.0 220.4 1,853.6
2007 4,747.5 2,550.9 1,243.6 1,307.3 2,196.6 225.6 1,971.0
2008 4,895.6 2,598.3 1,258.0 1,340.3 2,297.3 224.8 2,072.5
2009 5,116.4 2,681.6 1,276.3 1,405.2 2,434.8 218.4 2,216.5
2010 5,373.0 2,797.5 1,315.2 1,482.3 2,575.5 228.9 2,346.5
2011 5,603.2 2,908.1 1,356.7 1,551.3 2,695.2 223.2 2,471.9

Sources: China Statistical Yearbook, 2011 and the outline of China Statistical Yearbook, 2012

(7) Overview of China’s agricultural trade
(US$100 million)
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Total 558.3 630.2 775.9 985.1 913.6 1,208.0 1,540.4
Exports 271.8 310.3 366.2 401.9 391.9 488.8 601.3
Imports 286.5 319.9 409.7 583.2 521.7 719.2 939.1

Source: China monthly statistical report on agricultural products trade, 2005–11

(8) China’s agricultural exports by region
(US$100 million)
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Asia 1,794,558 1,910,021 2,203,658 2,252,845 2,325,475 2,923,627 3,630,740
Africa 66,051 88,829 113,660 154,807 157,706 178,785 243,022
Europe 449,680 552,499 701,350 829,937 724,013 879,059 1,053,838
Latin America 52,162 80,834 89,287 131,410 107,671 162,635 210,098
North America 322,086 422,718 494,117 577,569 536,302 658,080 761,168
Oceania 33,861 47,687 59,867 75,698 70,198 86,134 111,962

Source: China monthly statistical report on agricultural products trade, 2005–11

(9) China’s agricultural imports by region
(US$100 million)
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Asia 564,619 792,264 1,009,321 1,243,143 1,119,515 1,621,185 2,117,067
Africa 107,178 120,092 93,458 92,985 116,186 154,833 224,979
Europe 338,263 367,452 450,060 532,347 504,470 682,909 943,320
Latin America 753,104 768,222 1,153,468 1,948,462 1,421,581 1,948,547 2,512,170
North America 789,491 842,408 1,040,848 1,619,633 1,669,144 2,166,862 2,644,927
Oceania 312,059 308,324 349,519 397,495 386,647 615,909 946,298
Other countries 49 6 77 10 2 126 10

Source: China monthly statistical report on agricultural products trade, 2005–11

(10) China’s agricultural trade with Australia
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Exports 27,719 36,291 45,036 58,280 56,696 68,299 89,850
Imports 240,621 232,323 261,228 293,391 249,038 393,045 644,102

Source: China monthly statistical report on agricultural products trade, 2005–11

(11) Chinese direct investment in Australia
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Flow 19,307 8,760 53,159 189,215 243,643 170,170 316,529
Stock 58,746 79,435 144,401 335,529 586,310 786,775 1,104,125

Source: Statistical bulletin of China’s outward foreign direct investment, 2009–11

2 Agriculture in Australia

(1) Basic data
Population, 2011 (‘000) 22,485
Population share aged 0–14, 2010–11 (%) 19
Population share aged 65+, 2010–11 (%) 14
Urban population, 2011 (%) 89.2
Rural population, 2011 (‘000) 2,441
GDP, 2011–12 ($ billion) 1,441
GDP average growth rate, 2007–11 (%) 2.6
GDP per capita, 2011–12 ($) 64,088
Agriculture share of GDP, 2011 (%) 2.4
Total land area (‘000 ha) 768,230
Arable land area, total (‘000 ha) 47,161
Arable land area, per capita (ha) 2.1
Pastoral land area (‘000 ha) 361,518
Length of coastline (km) (including islands) 59,736
Marine area, including EEZ (km2) 10,000,000
Number of farming enterprises (2009–10) 134,553
Grazing* 104,867 (78%)
Cropping* 69,058 (51%)
Horticulture* 22,345 (16%)
Average holding size of farming enterprises (ha)
(Mainly) Grazing** 3,341
(Mainly) Cropping*** 482

*A number of Australian farming enterprises engage in both grazing and cropping, so appear in both categories in this data.
**Average size of grazing properties varies significantly by location within Australia depending on different pasture stock carrying capacity — from average 8,662 ha in Western Australia (within which there are also regional variations) to average 1,298 ha in New South Wales.
***The average size of cropping properties also varies significantly, depending on location within Australia (for example, different in WA compared to Tasmania), crop type and local agronomic conditions, ranging from small horticultural operations (such as wine grapes) to large broadacre cropping (such as for wheat, barley, sorghum, and oilseeds).
UN, World Urbanization Prospects: The 2011 Revision
ABS, Year Book of Australia 2012, 1301.0, May 2012
FAO, FAOSTAT database, May 2012
ABS, Agricultural Commodities 2009–10, 7121.0, April 2011
ABS, Land Management and Farming in Australia, 2009–10, 46270DO001, June 2011 (Table 1)

(2) Agricultural and fisheries production and composition, 2010–11
(1,000 tonnes)
Grains Wheat 27,891
Rice 726
Maize 351
Barley 8,145
Oilseeds & pulses Soybeans 47
Canola 2,382
Cottonseed 1,269
Pulses 2,303
Sugar cane (cut for crushing) 27,443
Sugar, raw (after crushing) 4,472
Horticulture Potatoes 1,217
Grapes (for wine) 1,563
Apples 234
Oranges 277
Meat Pork 342
Poultry meat 1056
Beef & veal 2,133
Sheepmeat (mutton & lamb) 514
Dairy products Cow milk, liquid 9,102
Whole milk powder 151
Skim milk powder 222
Butter 122
Cheese 338
Fisheries* Wild catch 172
Aquaculture production 74
Livestock slaughtered (‘000 head) Pigs 4,643
Cattle & calves 8,097
Sheep & lambs 23,221
Poultry 550,000

*Fisheries data for 2009–10
DAFF, Australian Food Statistics 2010–11 (Canberra, 2012), Tables 1.1, 2.3 and 2.4
ABARES, Australian Fisheries Statistics 2010 (Canberra, 2011), Tables 2, 7-13

(3) Australia’s agrifood trade with the world, 2011
($ million)
Key Imports Value Key Exports Value
Fish & seafood 1,304 Wheat 6,076
Alcoholic spirits (e.g. whisky) 560 Beef & veal, fcf 4,684
Wine (of grapes) 514 Wine (of grapes) 1,922
Pork, fcf 417 Sheepmeat, fcf 1,645
Coffee 410 Barley 1,378
Bakery goods (bread, biscuits etc.) 436 Rapeseed/ canola seed 1,106
Cheese 394 Live animals 1,071
Chocolate & cocoa preps 391 Fish & seafood 1,062
Sauces, condiments 262 Milk powder 960
Waters, natural, mineral, aerated etc. 250 Pulses 786
Nuts, fresh or dried 239 Cheese 754
Fruit & vegetable juices 211 Sugar, bulk raw 1,322
Beer 189 Edible offal (bovine, ovine) 545
Sugar confectionery (w/o cocoa) 177 Fats, bovine/ovine, raw/rendered 389
Rice 159 Malt, barley 317

Notes: fcf = fresh, chilled or frozen; preps = preparations
Source: DFAT Stars Database, based on ABS data June 2012

(4) Australia’s key agrifood trading partners, 2011
($ million)
Trading partner Exports Principal items Imports Principal items
Japan 4,530 beef & veal, fcf (1,656); wheat (463); cheese (398); lucerne & other feed (334); barley (270) 74 sauces & condiments (17); molluscs fcf/dried (9); fish, noodles (3); beer (3)
New Zealand 1,407 wheat (154); chocolate/ cocoa preps (106); raw sugar (99); bakery prods (87); wine (71) 2,100 wine (279); cheese (201); bakery prods (99); chocolate (84) 
United States 2,152 beef & veal, fcf (743); wine (504); sheepmeat fcf (451); wheat gluten (137) 1,204 pork fcf (173); alcoholic beverages (129); grapes fresh/dried (61)
China 1,940 barley (367); wheat (215); wine (196); bovine/ovine fat (190); malt extract (126); M&C, fcf/dried (120) 823 M&C, fcf/dried (133); sugar confectionery (64); bakery prods (60); fruit juices (58)
Indonesia 2,269 wheat (1,117); raw sugar (304); live cattle (275); beef & veal, fcf (171); milk powder (121) 191 coffee (28); bakery prods (20); cocoa butter (20); pasta (17)
Republic of Korea 2,336 beef & veal, fcf (773); wheat (573); raw sugar (433); malt (75) 70 pasta (12); extracts of coffee/tea (10); bakery prods (6); waters, sugared (5)
Singapore 888 milk powder (125); bovine/ovine fat (106); raw sugar (93); beef & veal fcf (71); pork fcf (52) 733 food preps for making non-alcoholic beverages (489); cocoa paste, butter & powder (101);
Thailand 572 wheat (220); malt (63); milk powder (45); malt extract (40); beef & veal fcf (25) 821 fish, M&C prep/pres (287); rice (90); sugar (79)
Malaysia 833 wheat (303); beef & veal fcf (60); sheepmeat fcf (48); raw sugar (67); malt extract (47) 492 palm oil (112); cocoa paste, butter & powder (44); margarine (34)
Vietnam 886 wheat (695); malt (47); crustaceans, fcf/dried (30); milk powder (17) 316 cashews (94); fish fillets fcf (61); fish, M&C prep/pres (58)
Netherlands 792 rape/canola seeds (635); wine (66) 251 coffee/tea extracts (71); beer (13)
Hong Kong (SAR of China) 1,000 M&C, fcf/dried (372); bovine/ovine offal (74); wine (72); beef & veal fcf (71) 40 sauces & condiments (18); sugar confectionery (4); bakery prods (4)

Notes: M&C = molluscs and crustaceans, fc = fresh or chilled; fcf = fresh, chilled or frozen; prep/pres = prepared or preserved
Source: DFAT Stars Database, based on ABS data June 2012

(5) Foreign direct investment in Australia by industry division
($ million)
Industry 2007 2008 2009 2010
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 697 740 691 669
Mining 105,109 122,683 141,234 151,065
Manufacturing 69,014 71,506 83,314 88,481
Electricity, gas and water 9,292 7,581 9,060 9,587
Construction 21,765 14,561 15,679 16,886
Wholesale & retail trade 30,126 31,826 38,259 44,500
Accommodation, cafes and restaurants 4,951 5,082 5,390 5,855
Transport & communication 56,743 48,106 46,738 43,331
Finance and insurance 54,728 53,104 60,196 67,653
Property and business services 18,197 19,693 21,469 25,174
Other services 787 1,543 1,572 1,627
Unallocated 25,442 20,090 17,037 18,845
Total 396,852 396,515 440,641 473,673

Source: ABS, 53520 — International Investment Position, Australia: Supplementary Statistics, 2010, Table 15a, Canberra, July 2011

(6) Total foreign investment in Australia by level of investment, 2005–11 (major countries)
($ million)
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 % share 2011
United States 333,987 383,053 441,121 443,416 516,914 548,194 555,868 27.4
United Kingdom 299,740 359,632 411,702 440,700 496,561 475,473 470,846 23.2
Japan 51,023 51,679 63,380 89,033 102,910 119,071 123,410 6.1
Singapore 19,665 27,436 39,168 43,259 41,071 41,965 48,709 2.4
Netherlands 28,704 31,045 34,365 28,526 42,156 41,518 43,706 2.2
Switzerland 19,945 28,748 30,395 37,248 32,318 41,601 42,281 2.1
Hong Kong (SAR of China) 31,571 38,873 45,933 55,671 41,504 39,565 39,416 1.9
New Zealand 27,248 35,711 42,861 28,546 31,591 34,299 29,707 1.5
Canada 13,372 12,489 10,776 15,070 19,148 18,717 25,048 1.2
Luxembourg 4,502 5,722 6,397 8,471 14,411 17,523 23,542 1.2
Germany 21,061 24,670 34,414 38,849 39,550 41,583 22,491 1.1
France 16,331 23,197 25,267 29,723 23,593 24,721 20,036 1.0
China 2,274 3,508 6,187 8,417 16,487 19,467 19,047 0.9
Malaysia 5,514 5,523 6,767 10,058 8,786 8,410 13,987 0.7
Thailand 207 294 338 882 1,268 4,962 13,408 0.7
Republic of Korea 900 4,959 7,796 7,178 9,206 9,250 12,772 0.6
Belgium 23,090 24,200 11,686 11,954 13,242 14,336 12,672 0.6
India 322 609 np np np np 10,954 0.5
Bermuda 5,362 6,506 9,634 9,148 12,169 10,074 8,743 0.4
Austria np np np np 3,759 4,011 5,746 0.3

Notes: Due to the high degree of confidentiality in Australian investment statistics, the above table omits countries where confidentiality prevents the release of figures.
np  not published.
Source: ABS, 53520 — International Investment Position, Australia: Supplementary Statistics, 2011, Table 2, Canberra, May 2012

(7) Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Australia by level of investment, 2005–11 (major countries)
($ million)
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 % share 2011
United States 75,554 86,599 100,891 100,400 100,271 116,947 122,379 24.1
United Kingdom 52,501 55,822 62,409 59,565 61,468 54,402 69,747 13.7
Japan 21,403 23,819 31,100 36,677 45,643 51,103 52,334 10.3
Netherlands 21,365 24,633 24,833 19,188 32,433 30,199 32,870 6.5
Switzerland 11,821 16,646 16,366 19,521 17,772 20,903 23,005 4.5
Singapore 4,201 5,590 14,189 10,415 16,512 18,791 19,966 3.9
Canada 6,070 7,661 7,232 7,287 11,646 12,811 17,326 3.4
Virgin Islands, British np np np np np np np
Germany 9,754 10,558 19,778 15,503 18,113 16,818 14,333 2.8
China np 550 np 3,643 9,058 12,947 13,354 2.6
Bermuda 846 1,229 5,550 5,814 9,654 8,463 7,791 1.5
France 9,468 11,743 12,620 12,905 13,020 12,996 6,777 1.3
Hong Kong (SAR of China) np 4,758 7,211 9,093 5,440 6,631 6,714 1.3
New Zealand 6,981 9,566 7,785 5,606 6,180 6,363 5,980 1.2
Belgium np 2,286 2,887 5,227 5,614 6,189 5,622 1.1
Luxembourg np np np np 3,239 1,459 2,344 0.5
South Africa np np 992 1,273 1,466 1,643 1,729 0.3
Sweden 1,249 1,470 1,661 1,696 1,341 1,750 1,524 0.3
Ireland 1,112 np np np 894 348 104 0.0
Vietnam -1 np np np np 1 1 0.0

Notes: Due to the high degree of confidentiality in Australian investment statistics, this table omits countries where confidentiality prevents the release of figures.
np  Not published.
Source: ABS, 53520 — International Investment Position, Australia: Supplementary Statistics, 2011, Table 2, Canberra, May 2012

(8) Australian total investment abroad by level of investment, 2005–11 (major countries)
($ million)
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 % share 2011
United States 303,118 352,765 412,459 399,743 397,801 403,554 410,612 34.9
United Kingdom 88,625 130,427 137,958 163,337 178,799 193,030 192,944 16.4
New Zealand 61,512 69,420 72,045 68,313 79,915 75,139 74,267 6.3
Canada 11,856 26,856 31,463 39,491 36,047 37,396 43,476 3.7
Germany 18,051 25,653 38,475 26,737 38,385 37,808 36,260 3.1
Japan 31,752 41,633 37,256 31,912 33,643 30,924 34,595 2.9
France np 23,035 33,907 37,566 28,784 30,118 27,245 2.3
Netherlands 26,121 32,115 35,866 31,040 26,436 24,230 26,875 2.3
Singapore 9,049 15,102 18,493 23,010 22,090 26,041 21,350 1.8
Hong Kong (SAR of China) 10,398 16,492 17,451 20,773 30,301 29,434 20,386 1.7
Switzerland 4,522 9,999 17,232 15,446 16,300 20,006 18,777 1.6
China 2,034 3,043 5,993 7,141 6,547 12,024 16,994 1.4
Brazil 878 1,209 2,223 2,441 19,064 22,588 16,44 1.4
Papua New Guinea 2,061 3,278 3,436 3,569 5,209 15,689 16,202 1.4
Luxembourg 1,773 1,869 2,670 6,056 8,726 11,499 13,279 1.1
Bermuda 4,127 5,710 7,491 7,879 10,308 11,796 11,117 0.9
Denmark 1,083 1,107 1,259 875 12,092 13,931 8,781 0.7
Republic of Korea 4,728 6,898 9,212 7,575 6,587 7,275 7,633 0.6
Malaysia 809 900 3,397 2,940 4,118 5,021 5,692 0.5
Belgium 1,344 1,598 3,009 2,608 6,423 6,274 5,479 0.5

Notes: Due to the high degree of confidentiality in Australian investment statistics, the above table omits countries where confidentiality prevents the release of figures.
np  Not published.
Source: ABS, 53520 — International Investment Position, Australia: Supplementary Statistics, 2011, Table 5, Canberra, May 2012

(9) Australian foreign direct investment abroad by level of investment, 2005–11 (major countries)
($ million)
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 % share 2011
United States 114,814 131,628 165,134 135,641 99,464 94,330 97,854 28.9
United Kingdom 33,597 45,567 31,907 24,917 63,960 71,266 52,105 15.4
New Zealand 38,854 42,629 46,933 34,235 42,029 39,783 40,159 11.8
Canada 4,375 np np np 21,494 21,339 23,295 6.9
Papua New Guinea 1,548 2,744 2,782 3,011 4,312 np np
Brazil np np np np np np 12,901 3.8
Germany 3,735 6,131 11,053 8,698 9,711 9,193 7,394 2.2
Singapore 2,906 5,037 8,980 6,559 7,509 7,140 7,061 2.1
China 847 np 2,289 np 2,347 6,705 6,355 1.9
Switzerland np np np 4,499 np 7,397 6,220 1.8
Netherlands 7,933 7,864 np np 4,181 4,467 4,598 1.4
Hong Kong (SAR of China) 4,620 6,728 6,444 5,928 13,513 11,038 3,865 1.1
Indonesia 926 1,396 1,875 2,089 3,068 3,320 3,654 1.1
Chile 90 np np 1,095 np np 1,325 0.4
Fiji 459 638 799 618 759 742 1,127 0.3
Argentina np np np np 536 1,035 914 0.3
Vietnam 660 np np 278 461 425 580 0.2
France np np np 341 311 np 491 0.1
South Africa 125 np np 498 404 564 473 0.1
Thailand np 493 446 390 216 370 431 0.1

Notes: Due to the high degree of confidentiality in Australian investment statistics, the above table omits countries where confidentiality prevents the release of figures.
np  Not published.
Source: ABS, 53520 — International Investment Position, Australia: Supplementary Statistics, 2011, Table 5, Canberra, May 2012

Appendix 1: Official visits associated with the joint study

Chinese delegation visits to Australia

China’s Ministry of Commerce organised a commercial delegation to undertake a visit to Australia’s north for the purpose of agricultural cooperation from 7–14 December 2011. The delegation, including experts from the area of agricultural investment and technical cooperation, and agricultural entrepreneurs from Shanghai and Tianjin, and Shaanxi, Liaoning and Shandong Province, visited Sydney, Canberra, Cairns and Perth and inspected potential agricultural investment projects.

From 8–18 April 2012, the Ministry of Commerce organised a joint report working group to inspect the agricultural investment environment and projects of the Northern Territory and Western Australia. The working group was composed of experts from the Ministry of Agriculture, China Development Bank, China International Engineering Consulting Corporation, and Foreign Economic Cooperation Centre of the Ministry of Agriculture.

The delegation was made up of representatives from the following organisations:

Government organisations

Ministry of Commerce
Ministry of Agriculture
Department of Commerce of Shandong Province
Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce
Foreign Economic Cooperation Centre, Ministry of Agriculture
China State Farm Economic Development Centre, Ministry of Agriculture
Shanghai Association of International Economic and Technological Cooperation

Finance and investment consulting corporations

China Development Bank
China International Engineering Consulting Corporation

Agricultural enterprises

Bright Food (Group) Co., Ltd
Shanghai CRED Real Estate Stock Co., Ltd
Shanghai Xiangfu Real Estate Investment Co., Ltd
Shanghai New Dragon Base (Group) Company
Shanxi Kingbull Livestock Co., Ltd
Tianjin Aolv Agricultural and Sideline Product Group
Liaoning Huishan Holding Co., Ltd
Jining Ruyi Technology Group Co., Ltd
Yantai Nanshan Group Co.(Australia), Ltd
Laiwu Taifeng Textile Co., Ltd
Pengli (Australia) Co. of COFCO

Australian delegation visit to China

A multidisciplinary Australian delegation undertook an official visit to China for the purpose of the joint study from 6–16 March 2012.

The delegation initially visited Beijing for government-level discussions concerning the joint report, before undertaking a series of field visits to: Jinan, Weifang and Qingdao in Shandong Province; Xi’an in Shaanxi Province; Hefei in Anhui Province; and Shanghai Municipality.

A formal photo with the delegation sitting and standing with provincial leaders and key figures from the Anhui Academy of Sciences
The Australian delegation visiting the Anhui Academy of Sciences

The delegation comprised representatives from the following organisations who participated in at least part of the visit program:

Commonwealth Government

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
Australian Trade Commission (Austrade)
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF)
Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)

State Governments

Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI), Queensland
Queensland Government Trade & Investment Office, Shanghai
Department of Regional Development and Lands, Western Australia
Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia
Department of State Development, Western Australia
New South Wales Business Office in Shanghai

Private Sector

Minter Ellison
Asian Agribusiness Consulting
Wine Australia
China BlueSky Ventures
National Australia Bank
Harvest Capital

Appendix 2: Websites


Ministry of Commerce
Ministry of Agriculture
Department of Commerce of Shandong Province
Department of Agriculture of Shandong Province
Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce
Shanghai Municipal Commission of Agriculture
Department of Commerce of Anhui Province
Anhui Provincial Commission of Agriculture
Department of Commerce of Shaanxi Province
Department of Agriculture of Shaanxi Province
China International Engineering Consulting Corporation
Foreign Economic Cooperation Center (MOA)
China Development Bank
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Northwest A&F University
Anhui Academy of Agricultural Sciences
China Agricultural University
Anhui Agricultural University
Shandong Agricultural University


Commonwealth Government

Foreign Investment Review Board
Australian Trade Commission (Austrade)—information for investors
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
North Queensland Irrigated Agriculture Strategy
Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)—information for partners
Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)

State Governments

New South Wales
NSW Government—Department of Primary Industries (Agriculture)
NSW Government—Trade and Investment (Doing Business in NSW)
NSW Government—Doing Business in Sydney and NSW (in Mandarin)
Queensland Government—Business and Industry
Queensland Government—Trade and Investment
Queensland Government—Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Queensland Government—Investing in Queensland’s food and agribusiness industry
South Australia
SA Government—Department for Manufacturing,Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy—Invest in SA
SA Government—Department of Primary Industries and Regions
South Australian Food Centre
Tasmanian Government—Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources
Tasmanian Government Farm Point
Tasmanian Government—Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment
Invest Victoria
Victorian Government—Department of Primary Industries
Western Australia
Western Australian Trade and Investment Office (Mandarin)
WA Department of Agriculture and Food
WA Department of Regional Development and Lands
WA Department of State Development
WA Department of Environment and Conservation
WA Department of Water
Water Corporation

Territory Governments

Australian Capital Territory
ACT Business Development
Northern Territory
NT Department of Resources—Primary Industry, Fisheries and Resources
Information for Prospective Investors in Agricultural Enterprises in the Northern Territory

Other Institutions

University of Sydney—E.J. Holtsbaum Agricultural Research Station
University of Western Australia—WA Future Farm 2050
National Farmers’ Federation
Australian Food and Grocery Council
Australia–China Business Council
Australian Local Government Association

Appendix 3: China’s foreign investment policy for the agricultural sector

According to the Catalogue of Industries for Guiding Foreign Investment (2011 amendment), the relevant policies for investment in agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fisheries are:

(1) Encouraged areas

(2) Restricted areas

(3) Prohibited areas

Appendix 4: Australian Policy Statement: Foreign Investment in Agriculture

The Australian Government released the following policy statement on 18 January 2012:

Australia is a capital-hungry country that has always relied on foreign investment as a driver of employment and prosperity, including in our agricultural sector. Foreign investment plays an important role in maximising food production and supporting Australia’s position as a major net exporter of agricultural produce, by financing investment, and delivering productivity gains and technological innovations.

Without foreign capital inflows, investment in Australia would be limited, resulting in lower food production with potentially higher food prices, as well as lower employment, lower incomes in the sector and lower government revenue. Foreign investment in agriculture supports agricultural production, job creation and contributes to the prosperity of rural communities and the broader Australian economy.

Australia’s foreign investment policy strikes the right balance between attracting foreign investment into Australia to support our economy, and ensuring that investments are not contrary to the national interest. This applies to investments in all sectors of the economy, including agriculture.

Under the Government’s foreign investment screening arrangements, all proposed investments by foreign government related entities, including in agriculture, must be examined.

Proposed investments by private investors in agribusinesses (including those involving agricultural land) are subject to the same thresholds that apply to other foreign acquisitions of Australian companies or business assets.

In assessing any application under the Government’s foreign investment screening arrangements, the Government applies a rigorous national interest test. National interest considerations include the effect of investments on national security, competition, the economy, the community and other government policies. The Government also considers the type of investor and the extent to which an investor operates independently of foreign governments.

Consistent with these principles, the Government is committed to ensuring on a case-by-case basis that investments do not adversely affect the sustainability of Australia’s national agricultural resources, including their economic, social and environmental contribution to Australia.

In assessing foreign investment applications in agriculture, the Government typically considers the effect of the proposal on:

In addition, all investors—both foreign and domestic—must comply with Australian law, irrespective of the value of the investment. An important example of this is the requirement for all investments to be consistent with Australia’s national competition policy. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission rigorously assesses all proposals that have the potential to raise competition concerns, including any potential competitive effects of agribusiness supply-chain acquisitions by foreign investors. All potential investors must also obtain any other approvals, such as environmental approvals, that are required under Australian laws.


The Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China wish to record their sincere thanks to the following departments, agencies, organisations, firms and individuals for their assistance in compiling this report.


The Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID); the Australian Bureau of Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES); the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR); the Australia–China Business Council (ACBC); the Australian Consulate-General in Shanghai; the Australian Embassy in Beijing; the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC); the ANZ Bank; the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade); Chin Communications; the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO); the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF); the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE); the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC); the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE); the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPAC); KPMG; the National Farmers' Federation (NFF); the Northern Territory Department of Resources; the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry; the Office of Northern Australia in the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport; Mr Robert Boshammer, General Manager, Manbijim Farm; the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC); Trade and Investment Queensland; the Treasury; the Western Australia Department of Agriculture and Food; the Western Australia Department of Regional Development and Lands; and the Western Australia Department of State Development.

The principal Australian authors of the joint report were: John Langtry, David Morgan, Alanna Mackay, Judith Laffan, Graham Andrews and Kylie Brown (DFAT), Amy Guihot (DAFF) and James Hudson (CSIRO).


The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA); China International Engineering Consulting Corporation (CIECC); the Foreign Economic Cooperation Center (FECC, MOA); China Development Bank (CDB); the Anhui Provincial People’s Government; the Shaanxi Provincial People’s Government; the Shandong Provincial People’s Government; the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government; the Qingdao Municipal People’s Government; the Weifang Municipal People’s Government; the Shouguang Municipal People’s Government; the Yangling Agricultural Hi-tech Industries Demonstration Zone; the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Australia; and the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Perth.

The principal Chinese authors of the joint report were: Chen Lin, Li Jian, Liu Linlin (MOFCOM), Xie Jianmin, An Jing (MOA), Dou Hao, Du Zhenli, Wang Yanhua, Zou Haofei, Tan Xiao, Cao Mei (CIECC), Yang Yi, Feng Yong, Yu Xiaoning, Zhang Qian, Chen Ruijian, Li Haiyan (FECC, MOA), Tan Cong, Guo Yanjun and Li Yang (CDB).


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1According to “the Partnership Enterprise Law of the People’s Republic of China”, a “partnership” is when a natural person, legal entity and other organisation(s) set up an operating venture with a partnership agreement signed by two or more partners for operating the venture, funding the venture, and sharing the revenue and risks. This includes ordinary partnership and limited partnership companies. “Joint ventures” follow the provisions of “the China-Foreign Joint Ventures Law of the People’s Republic of China”, by which foreign enterprises and other economic entities or persons in China organise a joint enterprise with Chinese companies or other economic entities.

2“The current situation of China’s water resources distribution”, China Digital Science and Technology Museum.

3The total loss of grain caused by natural disaster in 2009 was 55.4 million tonnes, according to the 2010 “Two Sessions” economic report.

4“China's agricultural products post-harvest serious loss, should learn from the advanced experience of foreign countries.” Xinhua News Agency, May 27, 2011.