Chinese-Australian co-operative links forged in ag-sector

10 August 2013

Australia agricultural co-operatives recently hosted a Chinese trade and research delegation under the Australia-China Agricultural Cooperation Agreement (ACACA). Signed in 1984, the ACACA agreement facilitates exchange visits between Australia and China agricultural co-operatives with the aim of strengthening the economic and trade co-operation between the two countries.

The visit was a fruitful two-way exchange to promote ongoing bilateral co-operation, with opportunities for the Chinese to better understand Australian co-operative business models and methodologies, and for the Australians to learn about the challenges and initiatives for agricultural co-operative development in China.

The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals assisted the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry with the tour itinerary and facilitated many of the meetings.

The delegation, led by Mr Ruiki Guan, Counsel and Researcher of the General Station on Rural Cooperative Economy, Ministry of Agriculture, Peoples Republic of China, flew to Australia on 9 July for an 11-day study-tour.

CBH Group hosted the Chinese delegation in Perth with site visits to the grain handler’s Metro Grain Centre and Terminal. The visitors met with representatives of the Co-operative Federation of WA and the WA Department of Commerce.

In Melbourne, the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries briefed the Chinese visitors on the Food and Fibre Marketing Co-operatives Grants. The delegation visited the head offices of dairy co-op giant, Murray Goulburn and also visited grower-owned ag co-op Southern Quality Produce based in rural Victoria for a series of site visits with the co-op.

In Canberra, the delegation was briefed by representatives of the Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Also there, prominent co-operative historian Dr Gary Lewis, presented an overview of the history of Australian agricultural co-operatives.

Enroute to Sydney, the delegation visited the Bermagui Fishermen’s Co-operative where the delegation toured the co-op’s famous Fisherman’s Wharf facilities. A second fishing co-operative site visit was hosted by the Ulladulla Fishermens Co-op Society.

The BCCM and NSW Fair Trading hosted the delegation on their final stop in Sydney on 18 July, where they learned about the recent formation of the national business council for co-operatives and gained insight into the development and application of the new Co-operatives National Law set to roll out in 2013/14. Co-operative law specialist Robyn Donnelly, provided the visitors with a comparative analysis of Chinese and Australian legal and regulatory frameworks for co-operatives.

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