CAMBODIA is set to become the latest live cattle export market for Australia.
Health protocols between Cambodia and Australia were finalised last week, creating more options for WA cattle producers.
Industry estimates that about 10,000 head of cattle may be traded initially and that there is a good prospect of future growth in the trade, according to Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.
The announcement is predicted to further boost confidence with Mr Joyce saying Cambodia is the fourth livestock export market which the government has negotiated access into since February.
"Exporters can now look to implement the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) and establish supply chains that meet those requirements," Mr Joyce said.
"Getting the groundwork right for any new market can take time but I anticipate trade will start soon.
"Industry estimates that about 10,000 head of cattle may be traded initially and that there is a good prospect of future growth in the trade.
"I am proud to say this is the fourth market I have opened in six months."
Australian Livestock Exporters' Council CEO Alison Penfold said although the market expectation as a start up has very moderate numbers, the northern top end of Australia will benefit from having a diverse range of market access.
"I know there is a potential importer, who has grand ideas for the trade, which is exciting, but our estimates suggest a start up of around 10,000," Ms Penfold said.
"There has been discussions between some exporters and at least one importer, it hasn't matured to a formal ESCAS relationship at this point. But the announcement of the health protocol is a very important component of enabling the trade to commence."
Ms Penfold said it was good news that there were discussions and that there is an eagerness from both parties to get the trade up and running.
"It adds another market to the suite that are already opening up in South East Asia," Ms Penfold said.
"It offers another opportunity, we would get a broad range of markets within the region and I think we are seeing opportunities for producers from all over Australia, right across northern Australia, from one end of WA to Queensland.
"It really comes down to cattle availability, shipping capacity and port access and cost of freight will drive the region."
As for welfare concerns, Ms Penfold said Australian cattle will only go to facilities in Cambodia that have the standards that are required.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Liberal Senator for Tasmania Richard Colbeck said it is important to have a range of markets to be able to move into.
"If you only have one market, you are subject to pressures of that market," Mr Colbeck said.
"Having alternatives gives you some bargaining strengths and I think that's really important.
"I think, from a government perspective, it's about letting industry take advantage of it.
"With the opportunity of Cambodia opening up, the opportunity now exists - it could be for anyone to take up (across Australia) depending on what relationships they develop within the supply chains."
Mr Joyce said the Coalition Government's drive is to achieve greater market access for Australian livestock and better farmgate returns for producers.
"This government is serious about delivering greater market access for our agricultural producers, including cattle producers many of whom are doing it tough at the moment because of drought," Mr Joyce said.
"Opening new markets, and improving access to existing ones, are tangible ways government can help our farmers get a fair price for the work they do.
"Better market access should help increase farmers' profits - and that keeps our regional communities alive and keeps Australia's economy healthy."
He said commercial support has already resulted in a re-start of trade with Bahrain and Egypt and he expect shipments will follow in coming months to Iran.
"With a good shower of rain and new markets, better prices are to be expected," Mr Joyce said.