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Transcript of press conference: 27 July 2017: Beef export ban



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THE HON STEVEN CIOBO MP

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment

TRANSCRIPT

PRESS CONFERENCE

THURSDAY, 27 JULY 2017

Subjects: Beef export ban

E&OE….

STEVEN CIOBO: I just wanted to update people on where things sit with respect to the beef

export issue from Australia into China. Obviously we were notified in the last 24 ‐ 48 hours

that a Chinese quarantine agency had some issues with respect to six meat processing

facilities in Australia. These facilities are responsible for a significant proportion of

Australia’s beef exports to China. As a consequence we could potentially see tens of millions

and potentially more than $100 million worth of our meat export trade into China adversely

affected.

We have been very mobilised and I’ve been very focused on trying to resolve this issue as

quickly as possible. I am very grateful we’ve had very constructive discussions with Chinese

authorities in the last 24 hours and I am very pleased that China has indicated that for beef

that is already on the water, that is, beef that has already been dispatched prior to the 24

th

July, that beef will be accepted by China. That is a terrific outcome, of course, for the

stakeholders, for those meat-processing facilities. I can’t reinforce enough the seriousness of

which I and the Australian Government take this matter.

Of course there is six processing facilities that are affected, the owners of those, there is also

the employees that work in those facilities plus of course the many farmers that supply beef

to these facilities. We have been front and centre when it comes to discussions we are having

with China and take China’s concerns seriously and we want to make sure we address their

concerns and get this trade back on track as soon as possible.

JOURNALIST: What exactly is the problem with the beef? What is their beef with the beef?

STEVEN CIOBO: China’s concern is that they have raised with Australia some labelling

inconsistences, some of the labels on the outside of the boxes of beef, for example, are

different to some of the labels according to the concerns they have raised with us some of the

labels on the insides of the boxes. These are largely technical issues; they are not health and

safety related, so as a consequence we have seen these six facilities have had a stop put on

them by Chinese authorities.

JOURNALIST: Have the Chinese authorities made any representations here?

STEVEN CIOBO: The Australian Department of Agriculture is undertaking a snap audit of

the six affected facilities. We want to make sure that we are able to provide the assurances

that the Chinese agency and the Chinese Government are looking for. In order to do that this

snap audit will take place. I have certainly had very constructive discussions with nearly all

of the CEOs of the affected facilities. I want to make sure that we keep them informed, their

employees informed and farmers informed about where things sit with respect to this very

important export trade for Australia.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible]

STEVEN CIOBO: We are seeing a very high level of constructive level engagement

between Australian authorities and Chinese authorities. Our Embassy in Beijing has been

talking on a regular basis with Chinese authorities. Of course I’ve also had the opportunity to

be briefed by our acting ambassador in Beijing, making sure that we are very focused on

trying to resolve this issue as quickly as we can.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible]

STEVEN CIOBO: Well it is difficult to predict what the actual value of the trade that’s

going to be affected is. It will depend on how long this issue goes on for. I am very focused

on getting as quick a resolution as possible. Certainly our beef exports to China are worth

hundreds of millions of dollars a year. I want to make sure that we can deal with this in a way

that’s respectful of Chinese concerns and hopefully overcomes this as quickly as possible and

the way to do that is through constructive engagement with the Chinese Government.

ENDS.