Minister backs Australian wool

4 April 2012

To coincide with a visit to North Asia to discuss Australia’s agricultural trade relationships, Australian Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, met with key Chinese wool industry stakeholders in December 2011 at a roundtable discussion held in Shanghai.

Phillip Glyde from Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, The Woolmark Company CEO Stuart McCullough, Australian Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Senator Joe Ludwig, Madam Peng from the China Wool Textile Association and The Woolmark Company country manager for China Xaio-Ya- Wei.

The Woolmark Company-hosted event highlighted key issues of importance between the Chinese industry and the Australian Government, with the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) a significant feature.

Joining the Australian Agriculture Minister at the roundtable was The Woolmark Company CEO Stuart McCullough, Corporate Affairs Manager Peta Slack-Smith and China Country Manager Xiao-Ya Wei, along with leaders of the Chinese wool, textile and fashion industry.

“The Australia-China trade relationship is very important to Australia and has brought enormous benefits to both Australian and Chinese consumers along with direct benefits for Australian farmers,” Minister Ludwig said.

“Investment by Australian woolgrowers and the Australian Government in the key areas of research, development and marketing is vitally important for this industry. Investment will help drive demand for Australian wool and ensure the long-term productivity, profitability and sustainability of the industry.”

Wool is Australia’s largest agricultural export to China, with a total export value to China of $1.89 billion in 2010-11, and the major export destination for Australian wool, accounting for more than 70 per cent of the wool clip.

South Australian company Michell hosted a visit by the Minister at its early-stage processing plant in the Jiangsu province Jiangsu is a major producer of textiles and importer of Australian wool as well as home to the Nanjing Wool Market.

Minister Ludwig acknowledged the importance of the Australian wool industry in the country’s export sector as well as its support for many jobs, families and rural communities.

“It is important to note the work being done by Australian Wool Innovation to strengthen this industry both at home and internationally. The wool industry was boosted by good prices in 2011 and I hope that farmers will continue to see strong results this year.”

The Woolmark Company CEO Stuart McCullough said participants in the round table discussion represented the length and depth of the Chinese supply chain and retail sectors.

“In this part of the world actions speak louder than words and a visit by the minister demonstrated great commitment and support for the wool industry,” Mr McCullough said.

“This meeting provided an opportunity to showcase the strength and importance of this relationship to the Australian Government, and for the Australian industry to encourage the Chinese industry to show their support for the FTA with their government.”