Ag in the Asian Century

I encourage you all to get a full perspective on the event by perusing #AginAsia on Twitter.

WHEN it comes to China and Australian agriculture, there are three types of people.

There’s the Xenophobic Know-Nothings that condemn foreign investment as they’re petrified of the wealth and power of the Chinese. They’re un-international, can’t see an Australia past their own legacy and cling to flimsy ‘food security’ arguments to fuel their embarrassing rhetoric.

Next are the Fence Sitters, the quietest group. They’ve not been fleeced by fear and have vision enough to see the great opportunity that the Asian Century brings. They’re unsure on what this gargantuan wave of wealth and demand will leave behind, which is, granted, something we have never seen anything quite like this before. They may remember the similar hype around the Japanese "taking us over" in the 1980s, (when Japanese investors bought up Aussie resources, universities and real estate before their eventual fall) and got over it. They may be confounded by cultural differences and risk, but open to opportunity.

The third type are Go-Getters. They’re determined to steer Australia away from being Asian white trash through their thirst to grab the future with both hands. The Chinese are saying, “help us, help you, help us” and this group are opening the door to engage through conversation, commercial deals and most importantly, building relationships. Strong relationships based on trust and respect are vital with the Chinese.

So where are all these Go-Getters?

Well, the largest group of them I’ve ever seen mustered in Toowoomba last week for the Ag in the Asian Century Conference. An annual event run by Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise (TSBE), an independent organisation that’s committed to creating sustainable growth and diversity for their region through sourcing opportunity for local businesses both here and abroad.

Now I’ve been to many an ag conference, but I have to say, this line-up generated the best thought leadership through their experience, risk appetite and the best wide knowledge base I’ve ever seen.

I wanted to bring you some of the key takeaways, not just through my eyes, but through those of other attendees. Here are some of their and my Tweets.

Shane Charles: Out of every 10 people in the world, 6 are from Asia. It all makes sense why Asia is on everyone's lips

Charlotte Corbyn: Engagement with Asia starts with spending time there. Students with experience in Asia will add great value at home, in this region.

Craig Zonca: Alfred Chung says Chinese market will soon be the largest in world for premium products

Bindi Turner: Chinese students studying in Aus are 'fairdinkum' about learning our business culture & helping to develop agri/food business

Anna Campbell: Integrated, efficient large scale supply chains critical to trade live cattle & boxed beef to China: Alfred Chung

Brendan Taylor: Words of wisdom from Alfred Chung - "It's too late to start digging the dunny when the diarrhea has started"

Sam Trethewey: Choose your entry strategy carefully. China isn't 1 market. Some provinces have bigger GDP PPP than whole of Australia

Sam Trethewey: Patrick Vizzone says don’t leave good business acumen at airport. Don't jump to a deal, success in China takes time.

Rachael Hedges: Explain your values, intentions, commitment & how you are going to add value to them - to consumers & the community

Bindi Turner: Chris Riddell says: Know your future customer, customer experience - good is not good enough, data driven decisions - in real-time!

Sam Trethewey: Perhaps replace 'cash is king' with 'data is king'. Data feeds the rapidly growing $570B USD e-commerce industry in China.

Sam Trethewey: "Barriers for new players to perishable e-commerce market in China. 1. Policy/Customs 2. Supply/Cold chain management" Rick Wan

Derek Barry: James Campbell from Sanger: Key adaptations for doing business in China - customer facing, secure supply chains, invest in brands, value add, use tech, continuous improvement & make sure your house in order

Julie Cotter: Keys to attracting capital to expand Aussie ag - investment ready, balanced partnerships and education

Charlotte Corbyn: Simon Talbot, National Farmer's Federation: Digital divide between regions and cities is holding ag back.

Caitie Tomlinson: Treat every province in China like it's a different country - that's the message from Raymond Ng

Regulatory barriers can be like “Great wall of China" says Raymond Ng - if you don't get it right, products can be blacklisted

Kate Reardon: Always remember you're a foreign when operating in Asia. Follow the rules, don't undertake quick fixes! Craig Aldous insights

dms CREATiVE: "Invest in understanding the consumer just as much as your export infrastructure".

Sam Trethewey: Elders set to grow by 25% pa for next two years as market share in premium restaurants expands for Aussie meat.

Sam Trethewey: Craig Aldous emphasising the 'must have'. Controlling YOUR supply chain, every step. Integrity only as strong as weakest link.

Simon Talbot: Long term mutuality the key successful Chinese Australian food and agribusiness

TSBE: You can't make assumptions about the #China market.... You have to see it, feel it & understand it.

And lastly, and most appropriately from the chairman of TSBE, John Wagner:

TSBE: John Wagner at #AginAsia: get off your backside, push through barriers and make things happen. The opportunity is on our doorstep.

I encourage you all to get a full perspective on the event by perusing #AginAsia on Twitter.

You don’t need a Twitter account and the insights and photos of presentations will be of great value to Go-Getters or Fence Sitters that are keen to make a move or know more.

A huge thanks to TSBE for putting on an impressive show for their region, that the whole country can benefit from. It was a much needed re-group of knowledge and experience for others to learn from and work with.

Sam Trethewey

Sam Trethewey

grew up farming down south and now commentates on agriculture across Australia
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


David Mailler
29/09/2015 6:14:30 AM

Oh Sam! This is an over simplification and lacks a complex understanding of a range of social angst. This reminds me of the 1990's string of Ag. advisors proffering the 'KISS' principle as a way the manage Aust. farming systems. I would suggest your observation is in line with current Aust. political debate, lacking generational vision, anyone that does not agree with neo-liberal efficient economics is the enemy. No doubt there are opportunities for Australian Ag. in Asia. Though I would caution against taking the first offer. Asia needs Aust. and Aust. diplomatic maturity,
Rob Moore
29/09/2015 7:49:04 AM

I know a thing or two about all this SAM.Been to China on an Austrade/TSBE trip and it was first rate with its research and introductions.No doubt China leads the world in almost every area by now.All this Chafta static is of course useful BUT JOINT VENTURESare much more preferable than selling the assets& future profit &the resultant COMPETITIVE tension void!The unmentioned "ELEPHANT" in the room is that meat /dairy is controlled by our processors (multinationals) who have no reason to share the extra cream with anyone.Just look @ elders -always in the red till they got a hold of the meat!
Jock Munro
29/09/2015 8:34:11 AM

If being afraid of the consequences of allowing foreign governments to buy Australia's key assets and speaking out about it offends you Sam, I will gladly state that I belong to the Xenophobic know nothing's. And whilst you are singing the praises of the Chinese you might like to reflect on the fact that you can write the things you have here and be called a know all smart Alec at worst- in China you might get yourself put away for a little while!
Rob Moore
29/09/2015 11:29:14 AM

Jock -I'm on your page 90% of time but China is a tidal wave & we all know history but Tianamin Sq was near30yrs ago.I talked with Aus Commissioner in a Chengdu(central province)-he had 320 M people in his area.Been up there for years and he says that the pace of change is staggering (I agree)They used more cement in last 3 yrs than the US has used in the last 100yrs!The central Govt(far from being evil now) is very skillfully steering the country and has to control the levers or there will be global disaster.Everyone I saw seemed happy, polite and everything worked nicely v western decay???
29/09/2015 2:41:58 PM

Jock are you advocating for Scottish Australia or Australia Australia?
Pete Mailler
29/09/2015 7:27:10 PM

Asia needs Australian agricultural products and there is great opportunity in that realisation. The problem is that Australia needs to realise that the best outcome is to encourage capital into Australian agriculture without selling the farm. Australia shouldn't have to sell the farm to realise the potential in the Asian market and anyone who suggests we should is shortsighted and has no vision for future generations of Australian agriculturists. I am neither xenophobic, uninformed nor uninternational, but I oppose Govt policies forcing foreign ownership of Australian ag assets.
John Carpenter
30/09/2015 8:30:45 AM

Foreign investment in agriculture is very good for Australia.Look no further than the great success a Chinese listed company has made of Cubbie Station Investment,output,employment all up and contractors delighted at actually being paid on time.When the time comes to sell, farmers have every right to expect the highest possible price for their business regardless of the purchaser's nationality.
30/09/2015 10:15:44 AM

Comeon Pete. When all the next generation aspire to engage in in agriculture is politics you know you have a serious problem. The vast majority of profitable farmers are focussing on what they need to do to be more productive with less rainfall and rising costs seemingly a safe assumption to make, namely marketing grain. That is opposed to marketing themselves on socialist, hollow populist agendas and drawing a wage out of a gravvy train we are all taxed to fund.
Jock Munro
30/09/2015 11:27:53 AM

Well written Pete- spot on and the majority of Australians would agree with you.
Captain 66
1/10/2015 6:20:50 AM

It is quite ironic that the total of the Australian Federal and State governments subsidies to the multinational coal industry is equal to the total Australian farm debt. If we got that coal monkey off the Australian taxpayers back maybe we would not be staring a the recession hangover of a mining bust. The Neo-liberal economic efficiency is all smoke and mirrors design by the wealthy to manipulate the political class into robbing sovereign wealth of nations. The fact remains that wealthy middle class Asia would like to eat clean green Australian produce, and we do not have to give it away.
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Get MuddyTo think clearly in farming and about farming, you need to get muddy - commit, roll up your sleeves and get involved. SAM TRETHEWEY gets stuck into some of the issues facing those on the land.


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