For the first time in its 20-year history, the powerful China Wool Industrial Association has met outside China, at the historic Lal Lal Estate near Ballarat.
Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford welcomed more than 130 delegates representing China’s 80 major wool processors in a show of strength for increasing demand for Australian, in particular Victorian, fine Merino wool and the ability of the state’s producers to supply the finest in quality.
Australia has a $3billion export wool industry, with 80 per cent exported to China for manufacturing and local use, and continues to be the largest global producer of fine apparel wool (under 24 microns).
Ms Pulford said the Victorian Government was working closely with wool growers to ensure they had the tools and connections they needed to trade with the world’s largest market.
She said Victoria was leading the charge with the introduction of electronic tagging of sheep and goats, which was another critical step the government had taken to enhance Victoria’s reputation as the best source of quality wool for Chinese manufacturers.
Electronic tagging did not just improve traceability and Victoria’s biosecurity system, but was giving consumers worldwide trust in Victoria’s sheepmeat and wool industries, Ms Pulford said.
Lal Lal Estate is owned by Qingnan Wen, president of Tianyu Wool in China, and runs about 12000 Merinos, producing high quality fine wool and prime lambs.
Ms Pulford said China was Victoria’s most important and largest economic trading partner.
She said strengthening this relationship would contribute to Victoria’s growing economy and create new jobs in agriculture sector.
It spoke volumes that the China Wool Industrial Association had chosen Victoria to host its conference, the minister said.
‘‘We’re leading the nation when it comes to food and fibre exports and our producers should be proud that demand for world-class quality you can trust continues to rise.
‘‘With wool prices surging ahead, and China continuing to make record investments in processing and innovation, now is the time for Victoria to strengthen the relationship with our number one trading partner.’’