Beef deal

Australia is on the cusp of securing a “breakthrough” live cattle deal with China worth up to $1 billion a year.

While the deal is yet to be finalised, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said it has the potential to boost the price of cattle and help Australia’s farmers.

“Over a long period of time, we’ve been working [and] negotiating with the Chinese government… for the export of live animals into China,” Mr Joyce told reporters in Tamworth.

“Now this has the potential market size of a million head a year.”

The size of the deal would amount to a doubling of Australia’s existing live cattle exports, prompting critics of the trade to renew calls for it to be shut down.

The Government said the cattle deal was not linked to long-running Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks between Australia and China and that it is a “coincidence” both are close to being finalised.

China and Australia have been in FTA trade talks for more than nine years, but there have been ongoing complications over agricultural exports.

Australian officials are in Beijing, hoping to finalise the agreement so it can be signed when the Chinese president visits Australia for the G20 meeting next week.

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