Australians like to go big and when it comes to crops, things are no different. Easily producing enough high-quality food to feed 60 million people – three times the country’s population – for decades, Prime Minister Julia Gillard is urging Australia to become a food superpower for Asia.
In a speech encouraging a greater focus on commercial engagement with China the Prime Minister said Australia can effectively serve growing international markets by becoming "a provider of higher-value products and services for the global food industry.” The message was delivered Thursday in Melbourne during an address to The Global Foundation, an organization which promotes Australia’s development and international engagement within a global context.
Though the country contributes less than 3% of the global food, a 2010 government report showed Australia is among the net exporting food nations worldwide.
"Just as we have become a minerals and energy giant, Australia can be a great provider of reliable, high-quality food to meet Asia's growing needs," Gillard said. Speaking to the effect of the “Asian Century,” Gillard stressed the need to seize the opportunity as Asia’s middle-class continues to expand at a breakneck pace.
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"In some cases, Australian businesses will be able to access large Asian markets through export, including through regional supply chains," she said. "In others, the business opportunities will be secured by establishing enterprises, including business partnerships, in Asian countries."
New agricultural partnerships are already being forged by Trade Minister Craig Emerson.
"It's not just about more exports," she said. "It is about developing the systems and services that add extra value to them and participating in the development of a market-based solution to food security across the region."
The Government plans to release a detailed report in the middle of the year on ways the business transactions Gillard described can be fostered and achieved.