CHINESE interest in Australian agricultural land is intensifying, with about $500 million of intended investment planned ahead of the release of a key federal government report that will reveal the extent of foreign ownership in the sector.
A diverse group of Chinese delegates from private and state-owned companies met in Sydney just before Christmas with Austrade representatives, corporate advisers and industry heads, to discuss opportunities in rural Australia covering more than 100,000 hectares of prime land, reports The Australian Financial Review.
The Chinese delegation included three representatives from China's Ministry of Commerce, which recently forecast that the country's private companies and wealth funds would invest up to $560 billion overseas by 2015.
The presidents of companies such as Shandong Taifeng Textile Co Ltd and the Shanghai Xiangfu Real Estate Investment Co attended the private lunch in order to discuss their plans, ranging from a $25 million purchase of 20,000 hectares of cotton property to investing $US350 million in farmland in Western Australia and Queensland.
Other major Chinese companies included in the discussions were the Bright Food (Group) Co, Shandong Ruyi Technology Group Co and Nanshan Group Co Ltd.
Documents seen by The Australian Financial Review, titled The China Food Security Study, reveals the Chinese companies were interested in investing more than $500 million in agricultural ventures ranging from dairy farming and ultra-fine wool production to animal husbandry and frozen vegetables.
One of the documents indicates that the Nanshan Group, ranked 188 in the top 500 enterprises of China, is intending to secure four properties with an area of about 30,000 hectares in NSW and Tasmania for the production of superfine wool.
Another Chinese government-backed company, Shaanxi Kingbull Livestock Co, is intending to buy a 5000 hectare cattle station in Australia as a stepping stone to importing 10,000 high-quality beef cattle and calves from Australia each year.