The latest rift between China and Australia saw Australian cherries being panned as “inferior” by the Chinese state media in the latest trade row with the country’s biggest export partner.
Consequently, Australia’s share of cherries in the Chinese export market has dramatically dropped as buyers now prefer Chilean fruit, according to Global Times reports.
With the wine, seafood and timber industries being targeted amidst the havoc of trade issues, Australian cherries are Beijing’s latest subject.
Given that the trading relationship between the two countries takes up to 30 per cent of Australia’s market, this latest move has left Australian producers anxious.
Sales manager at Wandin Valley Farms in Victoria, Tim Jones, told media that Australian cherries are “the best in the world”. However, as China comprised 40 per cent of the business’s exports and it was worrying.
According to Mr Jones, “China is probably our main market as an industry for fresh cherries. We’re still able to trade gently, and we’re just trying to keep a lid on things, and try to keep our industry moving in the right direction.”
A fruit trader revealed in Global Times that, “The share of Australian cherries in Chinese market … has dropped due to the inferior quality of the product given the reserved seasonality. The taste and quality of Australian cherries is not as good as it once was.”
The trader then added that Chilean cherries have the largest share in the Chinese market, with better quality and lower price.
As of, 30 per cent of Australian cherries are exported to more than 30 countries in a highly competitive international market. Aside from China, most exports are sent to Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s exports fell in November, dashing expectations for an end to the two-year run of declines, largely due to weaker U.S.- and China-bound shipments and suggesting a slower pace of recovery for the world’s third-largest economy.
The trade data is likely to be of some concern for policymakers counting on solid external demand to boost factory output and broader corporate activity to revive the economy.
Ministry of Finance (MOF) data out on Wednesday showed exports fell 4.2% in November from a year earlier, defying the economists’ median estimate of a 0.5% increase in a Reuters poll. It was the 24th straight month of decline, the longest stretch on record, and follows a 0.2% drop in the previous month.
“Overall exports won’t return to pre-virus levels until the middle of next year,” said Tom Learmouth, Japan economist at Capital Economics.
By destination, shipments to the United States contracted for the first time in three months, losing 2.5%, as weak demand for aircraft equipment helped offset higher car exports.
Exports to China, Japan’s largest trading partner, rose at the slowest pace in five months, growing 3.8%, driven by communication devices.
Shipments to Asia as a whole fell back into contraction for the first time in two months, losing 4.3%, while those to the European Union dropped 2.6% in November.
Imports shed 11.1% in November compared with the same month a year earlier, versus the median estimate for a 10.5% decrease, bringing a trade surplus of 366.8 billion yen ($3.54 billion), versus the median estimate for a 529.8 billion yen surplus.
Japan’s cabinet on Tuesday approved a third supplementary budget to fund a fresh $708 billion stimulus package, which includes about 40 trillion yen in direct fiscal spending and focuses on investment in new growth areas such as green and digital innovation.
Data last week confirmed the economy rebounded sharply in the third quarter from its biggest postwar slump in April-June.
($1 = 103.6300 yen)
(Reporting by Daniel Leussink; Editing by Sam Holmes)
The timber industry is hoping new opportunities in Australian manufacturing might save jobs amid ongoing trade troubles with China.
China’s export ban on timber affects Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland thus far
Industry representatives are asking governments for help establishing downstream processing and manufacturing in local markets
A trade advisor is concerned “bad press” in China could degrade the reputation of Australian produce
China has blocked timber imports from Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland in recent months, citing biosecurity concerns.
Tasmanian Forest Products Association chair Bryan Hayes said about 100 direct jobs and hundreds of indirect jobs in his state could be impacted.
“It’s a tricky situation because there aren’t immediately available alternatives,” he said.
Mr Hayes said they were now working with the Government to investigate “alternative domestic markets”.
“Possibly it may even open up opportunities in the medium to long-term for more investment in downstream processing and more manufacturing here in Australia,” he said.
New opportunities needed ASAP
China is a massive export market for the forestry industry, and when exactly trade will return to normal remains to be seen.
South Australian Forest Products Association chief executive Nathan Paine said exports “do have a place in the industry”, however, they needed to investigate onshore capabilities.
“We’re also working very closely with the State Government around how we can unlock and unleash new domestic manufacturing opportunities as quickly as possible to ensure that we can really drive new domestic demand for this product,” he said.
Mr Paine said there were several projects noted for South Australia’s Green Triangle forestry region which would “boost” domestic opportunities including Timberlink, Australia’s recently announced CLT and GLT plant at Tarpeena.
“What we also need to do is look at how we can get governments to introduce wood-first policies into their procurement policies,” he said.
“So that when they’re going out to the market for new public buildings … those public buildings are built using wood.”
Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub chair Ian McDonnell said there needed to be a focus on long-term solutions and domestic processing.
He said the cross-border industrial region had already been impacted when China moved against Victorian timber last month.
“The proximity to the Port of Portland, within 100 kilometres of our plantations, is where all our wood goes. There’s none that goes out of Port Adelaide,” he said.
Mr McDonald said forest growers were still able to grow their products in the meantime.
“The biggest impact has been on the harvest and haul sector where there are a lot of companies that have had to slow right down,” he said.
“And obviously that has an impact on their workforce and on their income.”
Logging contractor on alert
The trade tensions are front of mind for logging contractor Kevin Muskett, whose company BR and KF Muskett and Sons harvests and hauls timber across southern Tasmania.
“It’s certainly a concern, that’s for sure,” he said.
Mr Muskett said they were already “looking at other alternatives” given the uncertainty around exports to China.
“It’s obviously a political issue that needs to be sorted out. We [Australia] rely on China quite a bit for taking all sorts of exports from us,” he said.
“We’ll just see what happens and hopefully the relationship can sort itself out over the next little while.”
Fears of long-term reputational damage
Timber is just one of an array of agricultural products caught up in the trade tensions this year.
Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry international trade adviser Sally Chandler said producers might be thinking about alternative markets, however, switching over presented its own challenges.
“You can’t just pivot to something else and another market. A different country might require a different specification, for a start,” she said.
Mrs Chandler said one of her biggest concerns was if Australia continued to get “bad press” in China it would degrade the reputation of our produce in the country.
“That wine that hasn’t got a home in China, a lot of that will be pushed onto the domestic market,” he said.
“The laws of supply and demand mean it’s going to push prices down and add a lot more competition to the domestic market, an area small wineries like us rely on.”
He said it would push some small wineries to the wall.
“Unless this is resolved fairly soon, and I’m rather pessimistic about that, there’s going to be some pretty sad stories out there,” Mr Guthrie said.
“We’re having a fantastic season here in Victoria and we’re looking at a really good harvest, which is fantastic considering last year’s poor harvest.
“It’s a dark cloud over what was going to be a period to look forward to now that COVID’s gone.”
Chinese New Year losses
The timing is made worse as Chinese New Year approaches.
Ruth Ellis from Hanging Rock Winery in the Macedon Ranges in Victoria has spent two decades building strong export partnerships in China.
She said her buyers are nervous in the lead up to the festivities.
“So now is the time they’d take to stock up their goods for that crucial buying time.”
She said 50 per cent of her business is based around the Chinese market and many of them are now uncertain of their next move.
“They are just crying out, trying to work out when this is all going to end … because this is going to affect their businesses really badly,” Ms Ellis said.
“Twenty years ago they were just after cheap, sweet wine, but now they’re highly educated and they’re looking for things like high end pinot and shiraz.
“To lose that market for us is crushing.”
Fast move away from China
Mr Battaglene said agricultural exporters want a commitment from the Government to diversify Australia’s international trade long-term, and for minsters to begin the international negotiation process immediately.
“Not just market development and promotion, but looking at some of those market access issues that aren’t terribly sexy to the general public but make the world of difference,” he said.
“For example, our biggest potential market is North America. That requires some targeted investment in marketing and looking at how we get that premium product into the market.”
Mr Battaglene said he has been pushing the importance of expanding into other countries for many years, such as India and Africa, and re-investing in Asian markets that lost Australian imports to the Chinese market.
“We see great potential in these markets, but they require a lot of on-the-ground cooperation, ministerial involvement, and trying to get down some of those technical barriers,” he said.
And you worry for them because in recruiting New Zealand locks Jack Whetton and Sam Caird the Waratahs are hardly sending the signal that NSW will become a powerhouse again.
This is not a hit job on the Kiwis. As will be made clear below, both have their qualities but where Jacques Potgieter showed that foreign acquisitions could transform a side there have been others whose influence was far milder.
Whetton, 28, has had his best year in New Zealand rugby. He played plenty of minutes for the Highlanders this year and grew with every outing, taking that form into the Mitre 10 Cup for Auckland before a nasty fall at lineout time interrupted his season. At the Highlanders, they talked about his desire to improve and dedication to the set-piece. He’s not the tallest lock in the world at 196cm but his hard work around the lineout saw him develop into a reliable option.
When the Highlanders’ No.1 caller, Josh Dickson, broke a leg during Super Rugby Aotearoa this year, Whetton came into the side and took over that responsibility. However, his greatest asset at set-piece time is probably the grunt he offers to the scrum. He’s a powerful man and a natural ‘tighthead’ lock, so Harry Johnson-Holmes will benefit from the horsepower Whetton generates.
The Highlanders used to pick Whetton specifically for Crusaders games to counter the scrum threat Scott Robertson’s side would bring.
Despite all of those qualities, however, he might have still been seen as fourth choice lock at the Highlanders next year, behind Dickson, Pari Pari Parkinson and Manaaki Selby-Rickit.
Is Whetton an upgrade on the departed Tom Staniforth? It’s debatable.
Caird, 23, is in many ways the more exciting signing. At 202cm, he has a big, athletic frame and a decent engine to power it around the paddock.
In the Mitre 10 Cup semi-final against Otago last week, Caird – who played his provincial rugby for Northland this year – had enough left in the tank inside the last 10 minutes to make a line break, charge 40 metres and set up a try for his halfback with an inside pass.
His background in rowing should ensure that fitness is not an issue, and given the lack of quality big men in New Zealand his departure to the Waratahs raised some eyebrows.
Nonetheless, there is a roughness to his work that will require significant polishing before he can become a quality Super Rugby player. During the Mitre 10 Cup, he has mixed moments of physicality with a dropped pass here, and a cheap penalty there. There is a reason why he was on the fringes at both the Chiefs and Blues without really cracking either side.
The tricky thing for the Waratahs is that the second row is one position in Australia where teams can expect to be exposed if they don’t get it right.
Despite European sides’ almost endless appetite for Australian tall timber, the Reds (Angus Blyth and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto), the Brumbies (Cadeyrn Neville, Nick Frost and Darcy Swain) and to a lesser extent the Rebels (Trevor Hosea and Esei Haangana) will all manage to put together good combinations in 2021.
But perhaps this is where the Waratahs’ fundamental issue lies. Matt Philip, Izack Rodda, Will Skelton, Luke Holmes, Rory Arnold, Rob Simmons and Harry Hockings are all overseas, or heading that way.
The Australian production line has been diverted to overseas markets, and it can’t be reversed soon enough.
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Paul Cully is a rugby columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald.
A Kimberley oil and gas fracking project that has gained the support of traditional owners after more than a year of negotiations is unlikely to go ahead under a WA gas export ban, the proponent says.
Proponents say gas projects in WA’s Kimberley are jeopardised by the onshore gas export ban
The WA Government says exemptions will be granted only in exceptional circumstances
Karajarri Traditional Lands Association chief executive Martin Bin Rashid says the project represents an opportunity for traditional owners
Karajarri native title holders in the West Kimberley signed an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Theia Energy just two weeks after the WA Government announced an onshore gas export ban in August.
The revised WA domestic gas policy prevents gas extracted from land-based reserves from being sold outside of Western Australia.
Theia Energy’s agreement with Karajarri allows for drilling and fracking a well in the Great Sandy Desert as part of a project that proponents hope will become a major oil and gas producer.
Karajarri Traditional Lands Association chief executive Martin Bin Rashid said at the time that the agreement offered economic benefits while ensuring the protection of the environment.
“We’ve had extensive consultation on environmental, cultural, social and economic impacts on our country,” Mr Bin Rashid said.
But Theia Energy’s chief operating officer Jop van Hattum said the Government policy to ban onshore gas exports to eastern states or overseas threatened the viability of the project.
“We haven’t had much detail on what that policy entails; there was no consultation with industry on that policy.”
Waitsia exempted from ban
The ban on exports of gas produced from WA’s onshore resources was announced with one exemption to a project north of Perth associated with WA’s biggest media proprietor.
Waitsia is owned by Japanese conglomerate Mitsui as well as Beach Energy, an ASX-listed company whose majority shareholder is Kerry Stokes’s Seven Group Holdings.
Under the exemption, its operators will be allowed to process gas from the Waitsia field through the North West Shelf for export to liquified natural gas (LNG) markets.
Premier Mark McGowan defended the exemption at the time on the grounds Waitsia was a “shovel-ready” project that would deliver hundreds of jobs.
The Government declined to be interviewed or answer specific questions on whether Theia Energy could also be exempt from the export ban.
But a statement provided to the ABC did not entirely rule out further exemptions.
“The State Government will not agree to the export of gas via the WA pipeline network other than in exceptional circumstances,” the statement read in part.
Theia Energy hopes that its Great Sandy Desert Project will develop a network of oil and gas wells connected by pipelines to new and existing ports in north-west Australia.
Documents obtained from the company’s website, which have since been removed, show a conceptual plan based around their desert location 150 kilometres south-east of Broome.
‘Policy jeopardises jobs’
The American-owned oil and gas company that in August this year made the first application to frack gas wells in Western Australia since a moratorium on fracking was lifted, has also criticised the onshore gas export ban.
Bennett Resources, a subsidiary of Texas-based Black Mountain, submitted a referral to WA’s Environmental Protection Authority to assess plans to drill and frack six wells on its newly acquired acreage on Noonkanbah Station, near Fitzroy Crossing.
In November 2018, the Government lifted its moratorium on fracturing, but subsequently said no projects would get off the ground until a code of practice and traditional owner and private landowner consent requirements had been agreed upon.
Black Mountain chief operating officer Ashley Zumwalt-Forbes said banning the export of gas from their project in the Kimberley’s Canning Basin would cut them off from their most viable market.
“The Canning Basin is nearer the east coast than the existing WA gas market and practically would be unlikely to ever compete with imported LNG for the Perth market,” Ms Zumwalt-Forbes said in a statement.
Ms Zumwalt-Forbes has previously said that gas from the Kimberley could provide security of supply to the east coast via the trans-Australia pipeline, proposed as part of a gas-led recovery from COVID-19 economic impacts.
Bennett Resources’ fracking proposal is based on an agreement with the Yungngora and Warlangurru traditional owners, and identified eastern states manufacturing as their preferred target market.
The chairwoman for the community’s Yungngora Association, Jayna Skinner, had previously told the ABC that the community “wants to see economic development opportunities and employment for its people”.
“We are very fortunate to have the strong support of the two native title groups that live on the land that we operate in the Canning Basin,” Ms Zumwalt-Forbes said.
Their petition says the Orda family is “greatly appreciative of the work and dedication of the Japan Coast Guard” but “devastated” to hear the full-time search was stopped.
Coast Guard officials, who were unable to locate any survivors since rescuing a Filipino sailor last Friday, have told the ABC they would continue to search for survivors as part of regular patrols.
The family says they are concerned that people “could be still floating in the ocean awaiting rescue” from one of the ship’s four life rafts and a lifeboat.
They say they are “sure with some discussion we could enlist other nations including our own to continue the search after the Japanese Government has made such a tremendous effort to find our loved ones”.
“We have set the bar high previously with our own searches for the missing Malaysian flight MH370 along with the successful rescue of other seafarers.
The family maintains there is a “strong possibility that at least some of the crew members including Lukas … made it into a missing lifeboat or raft”.
They say this is bolstered by information from the surviving Filipino sailor, relayed to them by Australia’s Consular Emergency Centre on September 7.
“When the engine of the ship failed in the storm the captain called all crew on the bridge in life vests to enter the lifeboats,” the petition says.