THE Grains Council of Australia says the potential free trade agreement (FTA) with China would offer Australian grain producers new opportunities for investment in value-adding for the rapidly growing Chinese consumer market.
GCA president Keith Perrett has welcomed China's agreement that no sector would be excluded from the expected FTA negotiations.
"In any free trade agreement, access for Australian agriculture must be on the negotiating table," Mr Perett said.
"Our industry sees enormous potential for closer co-operation with China in the area of grains technology," Mr Perrett said.
"An FTA would allow opportunities for the Australian grains research and development sector to develop close relationships with Chinese institutions on technology transfer - particularly combating environmental issues and climate change - and advanced plant technologies.
"Opportunities will exist for grain producers to export specific varieties of high customer value grains to be used for higher value consumer foods, customised feed grains for Chinese intensive livestock production and compound feed manufactured in Australia for intensive livestock and aquaculture production incorporating Australian developed feed grain technologies.
"There would also be the opening of new markets for noodle and bread wheats.
"The impact of Avian Influenza has had an enormous impact on China.
"There has been a rapid development of intensive poultry farms since households have been banned from keeping poultry, and there will be opportunities for integrated joint venture feed production and intensive livestock production in both China and Australia, and the export of Australian food production knowledge capital, farming techniques and technology.
"An FTA with China will allow the Australian economy to link with an economy experiencing the most rapid growth in the world, with enormous growth potential.
"The Chinese economy is predicted to be the largest in the world by about 2020/2025, and two-way trade is already valued at around $29 billion," Mr Perrett said.
He said that even if the FTA was initially with one or two Chinese provinces, it would still open up markets of 200 million new consumers for Australian grain and related products.
"Moving rapidly to an FTA with China will give Australia the status of being a most favoured trading and investment partner of China - an opportunity that is too good to miss for regional Australia," he said.