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Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) CEO Patrick Hutchinson has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the China Meat Association. The MOU underlines a commitment for Australian and Chinese meat sector collaboration and to “secure trade outcomes that are beneficial to all parties”.

Hutchinson signed the China Australia Red Meat Agreement (CARMA) on behalf of the Australian Meat Industry Council, Meat & Livestock Australia and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation.

AMIC reports that Australia has sent 172,000 tonnes of beef, 45,000 tonnes of lamb and 39,000 tonnes of mutton to China in the year to August, and has a total market value of around $2 billion.

“China is the biggest export market for Australian meat, and maintaining and enhancing our relationship with this critical partner is essential for the future of our industry,” said Hutchinson.

“This MOU serves to reinforce the strong value our sector places on the relationship and our great respect for China as a very important trading partner.”

Hutchinson said the aim of the MOU is to establish long-term and formal cooperative relations, as well as “strengthen effective and practical food safety processes and enable bilateral exchanges around technical know-how, marketing, and research and development investment”.

It has been 18 months in the making, with initial preparations and discussions starting during the China International Meat Industry Week in 2018.

As part of the MOU terms, CARMA will initiate the cooperative program with a new working group to help implement goals, with long-term aims such as development of both parties’ red meat industries, an enhanced supply chain for Australian meat into China, and streamlining product specifications and labelling requirements.

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