Agribusiness to China
Trends and opportunities
China is one of the world’s top producers of livestock, grains, rice and
other agricultural goods. It is the world’s 2nd largest agricultural
goods importer and 7th largest exporter.
China continues to place strong importance on its agricultural sector. As
outlined in the 13th 5 Year-Plan and in President Xi Jinping’s report to
the recent 19th CPC National Congress, China plans to develop a
modern agricultural system, new agribusiness organisations and improve
China’s strategy and overall focus on developing modern agriculture:
China agriculture sustainable development plan 2015-2030
The industry benefits from strong government support, continued investment
and farm consolidation. Securing food supply, boosting farm productivity
and increasing product diversity are high priorities for the government.
Demand growth is expected to remain high, particularly for value-added
products such as meat and milk. Challenges for the sector include meeting
growth objectives with limited new arable land, land degradation and
For Australian businesses, there are opportunities to develop long-term
supply agreements and build relationships with Chinese enterprises along
the entire agribusiness and food-value chain, including services, education
For Australian businesses, areas of opportunity include:
animal feed and nutrition, particularly oaten hay, barley and sorghum
- supply of genetic material and breeding cattle for dairy and beef as well
as sheep and goat meat
dairy industry equipment, technology and services
environmental management and sustainable agriculture systems
agricultural and veterinary chemical management
by-product utilisation and disposal
veterinary and biosecurity services
tracking, traceability and risk management
aquaculture technologies and services
dry land cropping efficiency
post-harvest treatment technology
supply-chain development and management
cooperation on innovative technology solutions and smart agriculture
including agtech startups
China's market for commodities and agricultural inputs is dominated by
state-owned enterprises, particularly in staple foods. There are however
opportunities for firms to supply inputs along the entire value chain
including final products.
Australia has a strong reputation for quality and safety and Australian
businesses are well placed to capitalise on this. There is strong
competition from North and South American and European countries with
similar credentials, both in commodities and in value-add areas such as
genetics and breeding, feed and machinery. Exporters without strong supply
partnerships remain vulnerable to changes in buyer demand, price and
The Australian Government continues to work closely with Chinese
authorities to negotiate more favorable market access and reduce non-tariff
barriers. Market access challenges for Australian businesses include
contamination issues, uncertainty regarding customs trials and approvals,
and regulatory changes.
National, provincial and local governments have a strong interest in the
sector and may offer favorable conditions to foreign firms. Some projects
may have strong government support but an unclear commercial basis.
Chinese investment in Australia’s agribusiness sector is expected to drive
further growth in production and exports. Australia is seen as an
attractive investment destination, particularly in the dairy, meat,
seafood, grains, wine, sugar and food processing sectors.
China is Australia’s 2nd largest foreign investor in agricultural land
after the UK. In 2016, there were 12 major deals worth a total of A$1.2
billion, a three-fold increase in value compared to 2015.
These investments support long term export opportunities and innovation in
Australia’s agribusiness sector. Investors in Australian agriculture
include major importers with an interest in securing supply to meet Chinese
domestic market demand, strengthening their research and development
capabilities, and gaining access to new markets.
Chinese agri-food investors are moving to a more sophisticated and
cooperative investment model. Project selection, planning and due diligence
are more valued while agritech and R&D are emerging as attractive
Major Chinese companies with trade and investment interests in Australia’s
agriculture sector include Beidahuang Group, COFCO, New Hope Group, Bright
Food, Shanghai Zhongfu, Shandong Ruyi Group, and Luzhou Laojiao.
Tariffs, regulations and customs
Since its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, China
has made significant progress in liberalising agricultural trade.
The China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) came into force on 20
December 2015, and is reducing and eliminating tariffs on Australia’s
agricultural exports. Fact sheets and the full text of the agreement can be
found on the
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website, and a
Free Trade Agreement Portal
allows companies to search for products by name of Harmonized System (HS)
code to determine the preferential tariff rate.
A Value Added Tax (VAT) of 17 per cent is applied to all imports, except to
those specifically used in manufacturing for re-export. Low tariff rates
are applied to certain products in sectors where the government encourages
Australian exporters to China still face non-tariff barriers including
quarantine challenges, quota restrictions and some complex administrative
Basic import procedures
China adopts the practice of ‘quarantine inspection before customs
declaration’ in customs clearance.
- Import Goods Clearance Slips and Export Goods Clearance Slips stamped
with the special seal of inspection and quarantine authorities are issued
for goods subject to entry-exit inspection and quarantine.
- Customs will examine and release the goods against the Import Goods
Clearance Slip or Export Goods Clearance Slip issued by the entry-exit
inspection and quarantine authorities at the place of customs declaration.
Customs is the authority that interprets the customs tariff to decide
tariff classifications and to assess the dutiable values of goods entering
the customs border.
The dutiable value of an imported good is its cost, insurance and freight
(CIF) value, which includes the normal transaction price of goods, plus the
cost of packing, freight, insurance and commission.
- Most imported agricultural products enjoy a lower VAT rate of 13 per cent
compared to many agricultural commodities including wheat, corn, rice, soybean oil,
canola oil, palm oil, sugar, cotton, wool and fertiliser that are imported under
Tariff-Rate Quota (TRQ) arrangements, largely by state-owned trading
China maintains strict documentation requirements for imported agricultural
products, especially in relation to quality, quarantine and origin and
import control. Exporters should pay attention to applicable tariffs and
The marketing of feed, additives and medicines for animal use is subject to
permits, licenses and registrations. Advice should be sought from specialised agents or distributors familiar with these requirements.
Exporters intending to take advantage of ChAFTA tariff rates are advised to
check on any additional documentation required.
Detailed information on China’s quarantine requirements is available in the
Department of Agriculture’s
Manual of Importing Country Requirements.
Exporters can also refer to the China Inspection and Quarantine Services’ Regulations on Implementation of Law on Entry and Exit Animal &
Plant Quarantine (S.C. Decree No. 206).
Marketing your products and services
Australian businesses are advised to take time to understand the China
market including customer decision drivers, price influencers, the role of
state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and government and regional differences.
There are a large number of potential end-users of agribusiness services
and technologies, with different levels of sophistication.
Businesses are also advised to take their time and be selective in forming
partnerships, and seek legal advice before commencing and concluding
Tips for success:
Early protection of intellectual property rights is vital
Develop your company profiles and product information in Chinese
- Identify the right partners to ensure your business interests and success
- Appoint agents or distributors or have your own marketing staff in China
- Have regular contact with relevant government, industry bodies and
- Have a presence at local industry trade shows to raise an awareness and
get to know industry and business contacts
- Pay attention to regional, provincial, and local differences – China is
more than one market
Have a basic understanding of import regulations and procedures
Conduct due diligence of your customers.
scams or unqualified leads
due diligence and non-payment issues, for example letters of credit
- intellectual-property issues, for example in genetics and technology
Austrade can provide practical advice and support, as well as referrals to
specialised service providers.
Selected major China agriculture-related trade events include:
China Dairy Exhibition, organised by the peak industry body China Dairy Industry Association,
normally held in June in different cities each year. The expo includes
dairy farming technologies and services, dairy products processing and
other supply chain elements.
International Dairy Expo and Summit, held in Heilongjiang, an important region for dairy production, in the
provincial capital Harbin. Hosted by China Dairy Association.
Grains and Feed
hold a conference on the Chinese feed raw materials market twice annually
in September and March. Attended by importers and end users.
is an annual Shanghai event covering the entire value chain for the bakery
and confectionery market annually. It is attended by major Chinese flour
mills. Attendees are also interested in dairy ingredients, so is also of
interest to the dairy sector.
China International Cereals and Oils Industry Summit, an annual event attended by importers and end users.
Asia Fruit Logistica
(Hong Kong) is an annual international horticulture event featuring
international fresh fruit and vegetable supply chains attended by
international buyers all over the world including from mainland China.
China International Tree Nut Conference
is held annually in China. The Conference is aimed at improving exchanges
between domestic and international enterprises to promote development of
the nut industry.
Meat and Livestock
China Animal Husbandry Expo, held in May in different cities each year, covers livestock including
cattle, sheep and goats, and pork, as well as genetics, feed, machinery and
equipment, services and technology, etc. Organised by the
China Animal Agriculture Association.
China Cattle Conference, an influential national cattle industry conference held annually in a
different city each year. In 2016 it was held in Sichuan in September and
Guizhou in 2017. Organised by the China Animal Agriculture Association.
China Fisheries & Seafood Expo, in Qingdao, is a large international seafood show. Privately organised,
it has been running for over 20 years.
Links and industry contacts
Government, business and trade resources
China Ministry of Agriculture
China Ministry of Commerce
Department of Agriculture - Export
Department of Agriculture - Overseas network
General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and
Quarantine of the People's Republic of China
Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science
Industry and business associations
Australian industry and business associations with a China office can
provide advice and marketing support.
Meat and Livestock Australia
The Australian Chambers of Commerce in China have food and agriculture
working groups and conduct regular networking events. For more information,
please contact the Beijing, Shanghai,
South China (Guangzhou)
West China (Chengdu)
China Fisheries Association
Cereals, feed and fodder
China Feed Industry Association
Food China (E-Commerce, B2B)
China Dairy Industry Association
Dairy Association of China
China Dairy Information
Horticulture, cropping, plant nutrition, fertilisers and pest management
China Flower and Gardening News
China National Seed Association
China Vegetable Association
Chinese Society of Plant Nutrition and Fertilizer Sciences
China Nuts & Roasted Seeds Industry Association
Livestock and veterinary science
China Veterinary Drug Association
Trade, research and development
Center of International Cooperation Service (CICOS)
Agriculture, People’s Republic of China
China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs and Native Produce
Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science
Wool, cotton and hides
China Cotton Association
China Leather Industry Association
China Wool Textile Association
Please note: This list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only. The content is for information and carries no warranty; as such, the addressee must exercise their own discretion in its use. Australia’s anti-bribery laws apply overseas and Austrade will not provide business related services to any party who breaches the law and will report credible evidence of any breach. For further information, please see foreign bribery information and awareness pack.
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