Sunday, June 2, 2013

GrainCorp calls for foreign investment in Australian agriculture

Australian agriculture needs foreign investment if it is to take full advantage of the global food boom, GrainCorp CEO Alison Watkins told agribusiness representatives Thursday.Speaking at a Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) forum in Sydney,vacuum bottle Watkins encouraged Australians to move past prejudices about foreign investment and think big about global markets. "Australian investors, including growers, have demonstrated that they don't have the capacity or the appetite for the level of investment that's required to realize the opportunity from agriculture," Watkins said.Australia's potential ability to profit from the so-called " dining boom" as global populations rise over the next 40 was estimated at up to 1.Antique bath fixtures7 trillion U.S. dollars by an ANZ report released in October 2012. However, the report also found that to capture that boom will require up to an estimated 1 trillion dollars of additional capital to be invested. "That's about three-quarters of our current GDP." "It's very unlikely that that investment will all come from Australia,tyre changer" said Watkins.Foreign investment is still a controversial topic among Australians, some of whom fear foreign ownership. However, Watkins said that foreign investors have shown far more interest in putting money into GrainCorp projects than domestic players, and overseas investment is nothing new for Australian companies. "I really believe that regardless of ownership, whoever has stewardship of these substantial assets is going to do everything they can to ensure that the company's operating in a commercial and sustainable way," Watkins said. "A well-credentialed owner will invest well in our industry, generate prosperity for growers, communities, employees and customers. It's only reasonable that they should also earn a fair return on the capital that they've put at risk to do this," she added. 
One key area requiring substantial capital injections according to Watkins is Australia's country rail network, which currently suffers from inefficiency and uncertain government funding. 

While state governments have previously preferred to focus on roads to facilitate Australian exports, Watkins believed that a well-designed and functioning rail network could have substantial benefits over trucks. "The average train can carry 2,Clawfoot tubs000 tonnes of grain, while the average truck hauls maybe 40-45 tonnes. This means that the average export vessel takes 18 trains to load. That same vessel needs almost 900 truck trips, which is a massive loss in efficiency," she said.Where networks are in place, they are not always well- maintained. "Many of our branch lines operate with significant speed restrictions, sometimes as low as 20 kilometres per hour, and many operate with substantial weight restrictions because they can't safely carry heavier loads anymore," Watkins added."Our inefficient transport infrastructure may be putting Australia's international competiveness at risk."Where Australian rail wagons carry an average gross weight of 75 tonnes, with 40 wagons per train, Canada, a major competitive threat to the growing markets Australian producers are trying to capture, uses wagons with a weight of 100 tonnes, and about 100 wagons per train.GrainCorp says that while it is currently investing in improving rail productivity and capacity, and the NSW, Queensland and Victorian governments have also introduced welcome initiatives, further funds are required to support the industry as a whole. "Getting grain on rail to port requires more investment from other industry players, and this is unlikely to be forthcoming while governments allow the uncertain funding of branch lines to continue," Watkins said.carbon sheet "Agriculture simply can't be managed as a domestic industry. We export the vast majority of our produce. We're competing in a global marketplace against large competitors. We're trying to sell products that literally are the difference between life and death for governments and their people." "Capturing opportunity usually requires brave decisions," she added.

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