More importantly those who should know, the ever-increasing number of ‘China experts’, claim that the growing middle class in China and other countries, like Indonesia, will be able to afford, pretty much at any price, what we produce and there are already several precedents that indicate that could be true. Milk as we shall see, Wagyu beef, premium wine and so on.
I don’t think Australia stands a chance when it comes to developing a bigger business in China or anywhere else. I think we will fiddle around the edges, make big of little things. The reasons for my pessimism are:
- Productivity in Australia is going down. Costs are going up. We continue to fight among ourselves we refuse to become organised and speak with one voice.
- Farmers are suspicious of everyone looking at agriculture with new eyes, especially if they are foreign and have money.
- Farmers (generally) are heavily in debt so they believe, and they haven’t been told any different, that their potential to change and repay those debts in the short term so that change can happen, is limited. How to reduce crop and increase sheep for instance. Where will the money come from? Are the banks in favour of change? Will change affect the value of the land?
- As the graphs below show we have a lot to do in the export arena just to catch up with where we were, once upon a time, and not just with China. We have also lost market share with Japan and Indonesia. Farmers need to know the reasons why. Those who process the food they produce for export are losing market share, market share in one of the fastest growing markets on earth. Why is that. Are we too expensive?
- Given that progressive loss in other markets, what chance China?