Forrest's 100-year food plan for China gathers momentum


Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest will get a chance to progress his ambitious plans for a China food deal when the Business Council of Australia (BCA) hosts a forum next week to discuss the proposal in detail.

The high-powered meeting will be hosted by BCA chief executive Jennifer Westacott and attended by Forrest, Federal Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce, NSW Primary Industry Minister Katrina Hodgkinson, other state representatives and a host of key figures from the grain, beef, dairy and wine industries.

Forrest wants Australian industry and government to co-ordinate a response to the extraordinary demand potential for food in China and other parts of Asia.

He has felt that for too long industry has been at war with itself in Australia rather than working to a unified plan to boost Australian development through more food exports to Asia.

As a result, Forrest has developed this plan for an Australian- Sino 100-year food partnership.

As recently as May, Forrest lamented that Australia had failed to grasp its opportunity to be the food bowl of Asia and said the country needed once again to "learn to ride on the sheep's back."

Forrest has a majority shareholding in iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group but recently bought West Australian beef producer Harvey Beef.

He said he was concerned by Australia's poor showing in the Chinese food market. "We should stop any form of congratulatory language, we are simply not the Asian food bowl. You can walk into practically most supermarkets in China and you will be struggling to find any Australian produce," he said.

"Our ability to engage has been limited. We need to engage as a nation and as an agriculture industry, Australia has to once again ride on the sheep's back."

Forrest, whose nickname is Twiggy, is a West Australian who made his fortune from nickel and iron ore mining. He is currently a non-executive chairman (previously the chief executive officer) of Fortescue Metals Group.

With an estimated net worth of 5.86 billion Australian dollars in 2014, Forrest is reportedly the seventh richest Australian, having being the richest person in Australia during 2008.

The BCA meeting will be held in Sydney next Thursday, only weeks before Joyce is due to release his green paper on agriculture policy.

Source from : Xinhua