China & Australia: China now accounts for three quarters of all Australian barley exports
China has become Australias dominant customer of barley in just four years, as a global shift in trade dynamics for the grain has emerged, The Weekly Times reported on January 9.
According to data compiled by the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre, China accounted for about 20-25 per cent of Australias barley exports a decade ago, but has taken as much as three quarters of total exports in more recent years.
From 2006 to 2009, Saudi Arabia was Australias dominant buyer of barley, but is now lucky to account for 10 per cent of purchases, despite steadily increasing its imports during the past 10 years.
Japan, a feed barley buyer, has ranked either No. 2 or No. 3 in barley purchases from Australia since 2006.
According to GrainCorps global head of barley trading, Harry Notaras, it was important for Australia to have a spread of major customers.
He said free trade agreements with China and Japan had benefited Australia.
Japan is an important market (for Australia) as it has been a consistent importer, he said.
Mr Notaras said Saudi Arabia now bought most of its barley from the Black Sea region or the European Union.
AEGIC data shows Saudi Arabia has gone from buying 1.1-1.7 million tonnes of barley from 2011 to 2013 to 300,000 to 400,000 tonnes from 2014.
China bought 4.38 million tonnes of Australian barley in 2014 (or 71.5 per cent of total exports for that year), 3.97 the following year (76.4 per cent) and 3.52 million tonnes (60 per cent) in 2016.
Mr Notaras said working in Australias favour was that Chinese barley production had fallen from about 3.5 million tonnes in 2005 or 2006 to about two million tonnes today and that Australian barley had been able to compete in price with corn in China.
He said China bought both feed and malting barley from Australia, but the feed barley component had increased. Most of the feed barley was going into the southern provinces where poultry and intensive livestock farms were based.
Chinas barley is largely grown in northern provinces and it is more efficient to import grain into Chinas south from countries such as Australia than move it internally.
Mr Notaras said Australian farmers were being rewarded for selling barley to China.
China is happy to pay for our lower moisture (malting) barley and its bright colour, he said.
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