A DELEGATION left for China last week to negotiate a deal with South Australian rock lobster and southern bluefin tuna that could be worth up to $100 million.

HT Southern, the Australian subsidiary of a multi-million dollar Chinese-owned food corporation, was expected to begin trading last week and purchase rock lobster and tuna in the next 12 months.

The delegation would visit Wuhan on their visit which was a central point for China in terms of culture and economics, before heading to Beijing to meet with stakeholders of Elders Fine Foods.

Elders Fine Foods stocks Australian produce including fish and other seafood to China.

Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association chief executive officer Brian Jeffriess said the industry welcomed the opposition’s strong interest in China.

“Both David Ridgeway’s visit and that of the South Australia Minister for Primary Industries, Gail Gago, earlier in 2013, sends a strong signal to China that South Australia is committed to selling more seafood in China,” he said.

“One of the channels for tuna into China will be the specialist marketing companies selling a range of premium foods into the market, and we will assist wherever possible.”

Mr Jeffriess said everyone would benefit from an acceleration of free trade agreements (FTAs) with China as well as Korea and Japan.

“These FTAs will be the foundation of increased trade opportunities,” he said.

Opposition primary industries spokesperson David Ridgeway said the state had a reputation for premium food and it was time to turn that into firm export orders.

“Elders’ Chinese customers rely on Elders state-of-the-art warehousing, refrigerated transport and logistics – which is exactly what we need to get South Australian produce to international markets.”

Mr Ridgway said the Liberal Party was committed to increasing South Australian food and wine exports.

“We need to be on the front foot to make the most of these emerging opportunities,” he said.

Multicultural Affairs Parliamentary Secretary Jing Lee was part of the delegation and said South Australian food and wine would be showcased in Wuhan to 10 million potential customers.

By Kimberlee Meier

A local delegation is in China to negotiate a deal with South Australian rock lobster and southern bluefin tuna.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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