Australia will sell less beef to China next year but more to Japan and South Korea, where free trade agreements are already in place, new export projections show.
The forecast that beef and veal exports to China will fall four per cent to 120,000 tonnes in 2015/16 comes before Trade Minister Andrew Robb introduces legislation for the the Australian-China free trade agreement in parliament on Wednesday.
Figures in the September forecast from the Australian Bureau of Agriculture Economics and Sciences (ABARES) show exports to Japan and South Korea – where free trade agreements are in place – should rise four per cent and five per cent respectively in the same period.
The report, released on Tuesday, says the falling Australian dollar and free trade agreements will help beef exports.
ABARES says exports to China will fall “reflecting relatively high prices of Australian beef and increased competition from lower-cost suppliers”.
Cheaper competitors include Brazil and New Zealand, which have signed tariff-reduction agreements.
The proposed China-Australia free trade deal seeks to remove China’s tariffs on beef – ranging from 12 to 25 per cent – over nine years.
ABARES has forecast the gross value of Australia’s total farm production will increase by eight per cent to about $57.1 billion in 2015/16, helped by increases in the value of livestock and strong crop production.
Farm export earnings are expected to be $43.4 billion, which is about 14 per cent above the five-year average.
ABARES executive director Karen Schneider said export earnings should be higher for crops and fisheries products while income from meat, sugar, dairy and live cattle would be lower.
Live cattle exports to Indonesia are forecast to fall in 2015/16 after that country slashed its intake from Australia.
After suffering price rises and supply shortfalls, Indonesia allowed a slight increase in imports but has not indicated final new quota levels.
China is shaping up as a new live export market, with the free trade agreement to remove tariffs on live cattle if passed.