CHINA has lifted a three-month ban on beef and lamb processed by a group of Australian abattoirs.
In July, suspensions were made on exports from JBS’s Toowoomba and Scone plants, Thomas Food International’s facility at Murray Bridge in South Australia and Northern Co-operative Meat Company’s Casino processor, as well as plants run by Kilcoy Pastoral and Australian Country Choice in Queensland.
The abattoirs process almost a third of Australia’s beef trade to China and the ban, lifted on Monday night, is estimated to have cost about $100 million — or $1 million a day — in potential lost earnings.
Trade Minister Steve Ciobo said the ban was introduced because of labelling concerns.
“Essentially the concern was that there were a number of processors where there was some mismatching of labelling,” Mr Ciobo said.
“This positive outcome reflects the high level of co-operation between Australian and Chinese authorities, and our red meat industry,” he said.
The suspensions related only to meat products loaded on ships from July 24.
Australian Meat Industry Council chairman Lachie Hart said the peak body had worked “hand in glove” with the Department of Agriculture to address the bans.
“This issue was impacting our members, and in turn the whole supply chain,” Mr Hart said.
“This outcome also shows that recent unhelpful media was ‘well off the mark’ regarding industry cohesiveness and our industry relationship with our great trading partner China.”
AMIC said one NSW-based processor, which had a Chinese-trade ban applied “in similar fashion” to it four to six weeks ago, was continuing to work with trade authorities to have that suspension lifted.
AMIC said China was an important meat export market for Australia, shipping 160,000 tonnes of beef and sheep meat valued at about $970 million in 2015-16.
“This industry employs almost 50,000 full time staff up and down the supply chain, as well as over 100,000 extra people through multiplier effects,” Mr Hart said.