TALKS to develop a live cattle export market with China are evolving, with attention being given to managing the blue tongue virus (BTV) risk.
Three Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) were signed earlier this month between Chinese companies and the WA Livestock Exporters Association (WALEA) to facilitate a live trade trial.
As reported, the MoUs will underpin arrangements to support the export of live cattle to Hainan Island between WALEA members and the Chinese companies: Hainan Baifu Water Investment Company, Hainan Ruijin Investment Company and HainanHaidao Wagyu Bio-technology Company.
Part of the negotiations includes BTV, as China is a BTV sensitive market.
A Department of Agriculture and Food WA spokesman said protocol conditions will involve recognition of status and test results.
"Protocol negotiations are the responsibility of the Australian and Chinese governments," a spokesperson said.
"However, the WA beef industry is well placed to supply given that our BTV free zone is extensive."
While there is an animal health protocol agreed between China and Australia for breeding cattle of dairy heifers, no protocol is available for feeder or processor-ready type cattle.
Once protocols are agreed between the two countries and the exporter regulations are met, Australia will be able to trade live feeder and slaughter cattle into China.
WALEA chairman and Emanuel Exports general manager Nicholas Daws said the negotiations for feeder and slaughter protocols between the Australian Government's agriculture department and the Chinese Government has been underway for some time, but nothing had yet been agreed upon.
"To commence exports, the exporter regulations will first need to be finalised before exporters can give commercial consideration," Mr Daws said.
Although there is a long way to get the trial running, Mr Daws said the important thing is the market is open and an MoU has been established.
If the trade gets off the ground, China is predicted to be Australia's second biggest live cattle market, behind Indonesia, which took more than 454,000 head in 2013, and in front of Israel which imported 98,320 live cattle in 2013.