NT upbeat over cattle exports to Thailand

The Northern Territory is hoping live cattle exports to Thailand can reach tens of thousands of head over the next five years after the trade resumed this year.

杭州桑拿

NT Agriculture Minister Willem Westra van Holthe was upbeat as beef cattle exports to Thailand reached 7600 this year after import protocols came into effect late in 2014.

“The Northern Territory recognises and had recognised for a long, long time that our future lies in Southeast Asia and, of course, Thailand is an emerging market for live cattle exports, is a key and critical part of that,” Mr Westra van Holthe told AAP during an official visit.

The protocols are under the Australia-initiated Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS), which aims to improve the handling of Australian cattle exports and transparency in overseas markets.

“Now those health protocols have been agreed between the Australian government (and Thailand), it really opens the door for exports of those animals,” he said.

Mr Westra van Holthe said there is strong potential in the Thai market.

“I would hope that in five years we’re certainly talking about tens of thousands of cattle coming across to Thailand through ESCAS-approved supply chains,” he said.

Stuart Kemp, the chief executive of Northern Territory Livestock Exporters, said the Thai market creates fresh challenges compared with other regional importers.

“The Thai market is so much different to other markets in that it’s based around trade and people evaluating and continuing to on-sell,” Mr Kemp said.

The links between importers and the processing supply chain are clearer, enabling easier monitoring under the ESCAS protocols.

“This is something that we have to develop with the Thai importers, to shore up traceability and the supply chain,” Mr Kemp said.

“And for that to happen, they need markets to sell their cattle domestically or there has to be advances in the ESCAS protocols to allow other market outlets for ‘feedlotters’ and processing.”

The chairman of Nakhon Sawan-based Shazaman Livestock Co, Patisate Success, whose company has imported 2000 head of Australian cattle, told AAP his company “had no problems” following the ESCAS protocols.

But he remained cautious about the entry of Australian live cattle into Thailand in competition with locally raised livestock.

“We test first – maybe one year, two years – to see if people accept Australian beef,” he said.

“Now the competition is Thai beef” which, he says, tends to be leaner than Australian cattle.