Joint study paves way for closer rural cooperation

Media release

20 December 2012

Closer co-operation between Australia and China in agriculture would raise rural productivity and spur regional development while helping global efforts on food security, according to a study released today.

The joint study by the Australian and Chinese Governments - the first of its kind - found that further work is needed in both countries to improve agricultural output to supply global markets.

Called "Feeding the Future", the study calls for greater investment in farming technology in Australia and China, and notes synergies between the two countries in expertise and innovation.

It finds that Chinese investment in Australian agriculture is "in its infancy", although growing. Any increased production stemming from more cooperation with China would be "available for sale on world markets", the report says.

The study identifies new irrigation developments in northern Australia, such as the Ord-East Kimberley Expansion Project, as "opportunities for mutually beneficial investment".

Trade and Competitiveness Minister Craig Emerson commissioned the study with his Chinese counterpart, Commerce Minister Chen Deming.

"This report provides a blueprint to increasing Australia's role in supplying global markets while developing its rural and regional centres," Dr Emerson said.

"At a time when many rural communities are struggling, this cooperation will provide employment, drive technological advances and boost prosperity in rural Australia."

r Emerson, who is also Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy, said long-term cooperation in agriculture and agribusiness would help diversify the commercial relationship between Australia and China.

The Asian Century White Paper released by Prime Minister Gillard in October set this as a priority.

"The benefits that will flow from the cooperation outlined in this report will go a long way towards ensuring Australia is making the most of the opportunities of the Asian Century," Dr Emerson.

This is the first time that the Australian and Chinese Governments have worked together on this kind of project.

"This study is a model for bilateral cooperation," Dr Emerson said.

"It demonstrates what can be achieved when two Governments work together."

The study is available online at: www.dfat.gov.au/publications/feeding-the-future

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