Thursday, October 06, 2011

Food Security Critical for China

A recent post highlights that Australia is selling off resources to China - land resources for agriculture especially.

[see - ]

Not all are happy over this issue.

China, as distinct from Australia has some clear policies around food security and imports of minerals, with a distinct focus on extra-terrritorial acquistion of the means of production - of both.

See more here -

In this article Prof Mike Berrell, Director WADEmatheson and Executive Dean, Holmes Institute, Australia, an expert on Chinese business practices says Australia’s lack of strategy and vision for a sustainable agricultural industry, was flagging in comparison to China’s global approach.

He said for the Chinese to be purchasing prime agricultural land outright entails risks for Australia due to loss of control in what is emerging as a global strategic industry.

This would be especially the case if the ventures were 100 percent Chinese invested, he said.

Despite China's recent efforts to reduce carbon emissions, China's current commitment to sustainability does not extend to agricultural practices, he said.

“Joint ventures in the area would be preferable to 100 percent Chinese foreign ownership - the latter of course suits China,” he said. “Australia must be absolutely clear about how such ventures are to move ahead and establish strict guidelines for ownership - perhaps make sustainable agriculture a strategic industry is the same way has China has its “strategic industries”, which fall outside normal investment guidelines.”

A significant issue in this is that most players from China are state owned, effectively an arm of the sovereign government of China. While other parts of the world have previously invested in Australian rural properties and industries, and many still do, [think the UK and the USA] they are almost always privately owned companies, or private individuals, and from countries where government intervention in industry is minimal.

This is a serious issue for Australia, a nett food exporter, with other sovereign countries owning our food production resources.

The image also shows that it is not just China - an example of the options that Singapore is pursuing in a similar fashion.

Should Australia be concerned over the whole theme of extra-territorial agriculture?

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