To date there has only been support from Prime Minister Tony Abbott for allocating China vast areas of Northern Australia, detailed in this 2012 DFAT official report

Joint Ministerial Foreword

It is a pleasure to present this joint study between Australia and China on how to strengthen investment and technological cooperation in agriculture to enhance food security. We—Australia’s Ministers for Trade and Competitiveness and for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and China’s Ministers of Commerce and of Agriculture—began discussing this important global issue last year.

Continuing population growth and limited land and water resources, particularly in the Asia–Pacific region, have made food security a priority for many governments. As the economies in our region grow, and per capita incomes rise, consumers will increasingly demand safe, high-quality, high-protein food.

Australia has earned a global reputation for its expertise in agriculture and the high quality of its produce. It still has large tracts of unused or under-utilised areas in its northern regions. Some of this land could, with investment in new productive capacity and the appropriate application of technologies, produce more food for sale on world markets.

China has its own expertise in agriculture as well as a surplus of investible capital, and has developed great plans for the further development of modern agriculture. After decades of progress and growth, China has developed advanced agricultural technology in areas such as crop breeding; plant disease and insect pest prevention and control technologies; and animal disease prevention and control. Firms also spread these leading technologies internationally, and so make an important contribution to improving food production and enhancing global food security.

In our discussions, we agreed that our two countries could work together to ease growing pressure on global food supplies. In the follow-up, Australia hosted two delegations of Chinese government, business and banking representatives in the agricultural sector. A reciprocal visit to China by Australian business representatives and officials provided further input to the study.

This paper is, first and foremost, about cooperation to raise rural productivity to supply global markets. By bringing land, capital and know-how together our two countries can make a difference. Additionally, both countries hope to develop technological cooperation and investment opportunities to improve the production of agrifood.

At the same time, we recognise that this study makes a limited contribution to the challenge of global food security. But it helps to establish a best-practice approach to Australia–China cooperation on this issue, which could provide a model for improved international cooperation. The principles it identifies are central to long-term success in our bilateral cooperation on agribusiness. Governments need to provide the right policy and regulatory environment so that companies can make sound decisions.

Strengthening agricultural investment and deepening technological cooperation is a focus of international cooperation to address food security, and is also an important measure to promote bilateral cooperation. This is the first time that our two governments have worked together on such a project. It is an excellent example of what can be achieved through cooperation, a model we may wish to emulate in the future. We sincerely thank all those who have contributed to this report.

Craig Emerson
Minister for Trade and Competitiveness
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy

Joe Ludwig
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Chen Deming
Minister of Commerce
People’s Republic of China

Han Changfu
Minister of Agriculture
People’s Republic of China