A trial shipment of 3,000 live Australian beef cattle is set to go to China in a deal that could expand to 100,000 beef cattle a year, local media reported on Friday.


The ABC reported that four companies from Hainan province have signed up for trial shipments.


Agreements had already been signed with companies from Zhejiang province in April and if the trials are successful, it is expected demand from China could quickly reach 100,000 head a year, worth 200 million Australian dollars (186 million U.S. dollars).


Minister for Regional Development and Lands Terry Redman is in Hainan to witness the signing of another Memorandum of Understanding between Chinese companies and the WA Livestock Exporters Association.


"Before that (trial) happens there needs to be an agreement of import protocols on China's part to ensure that issues such as quarantine are covered off," he said.


"We already export breeding stock into China, there's protocols for that, there's not protocols for exporting animals into slaughter or into feedlots, that's a piece that this starts moving on."


"I think if we look at China's side of this, it's probably been the last two years in particular where there's been a particular motivation to look at food security and food safety," Redman said.


"I met with the China Meat Federation two days ago and they highlighted the increase in boxed beef coming into China in 2013, was 455 percent increase on the previous year."


"That says the strong growth in demand for meat in China is outstripping their own production capacity and it means that other opportunities for them to supplement that, have to happen and will be significant and therefore, I think the motivation fits with this and there's no reason why the Federal government would not support it, " the minister said.


"It's a matter of progressing it at the Chinese side to ensure they're comfortable with the protocols."


SOURCE: Xinhua


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