Free-trade deals present agricultural opportunities

By Ben Smith and Michael Ning

Australia’s recent conclusion of two free-trade agreements with South Korea and Japan are likely to present significant opportunities in the agricultural sector, and reflect an increasing interest in Australian agriculture from overseas parties.

Interest in Australia’s dairy sector is buoyant following the denouement of the three-way takeover battle for ASX-listed Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory (WCB). There have also been a number of high-profile private M&A transactions in the sector with Victoria’s United Dairy Power, Tasmania’s Tamar Valley Dairy and Western Australia’s Harvey Fresh changing hands to foreign investors.

This recent deal flow indicates that investors are prepared to pay a premium for high-quality Australian dairy assets underpinned by Australia’s proximity to the growing number of middle-class consumers in north Asian markets. Furthermore, the new trade agreements are likely to make Australian-based agricultural exports significantly more competitive internationally…

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