On 9 June 2017, the Centre forContemporary Chinese Studies convened a successful conference: “Feeding China: Agricultural Modernisation, Trade and Investment.” Attended by over 100 participants from academic, industrial and government sectors, this conference offered interesting talks and enlightening discussions on the topic of China’s agricultural transformation.

The conference was opened by the Victorian Minister for Agriculture & Regional Development, the Honourable Jaala Pulford who stressed the growing importance of bilateral agricultural trade and investment. Throughout the day, leading experts from China, Australia, Singapore and New Zealand shared their valuable knowledge of the latest developments in the macro policy environment, agrarian change, agricultural restructuring, trade and investment. Conference participants also contributed to interesting discussion during Q and A. Several expressed their appreciation for being given the opportunity to engage in public discussion of such important topics.

During the conference, the Centre made known its plan to embark upon research into China’s agricultural transformation. Those interested in further information can follow the Centre on twitter @cccs_unimelb for the latest news.

In response to changing food demand, rapid urbanisation, and significant environmental constraints, the Chinese government is embarking on a fundamental reorganisation of China’s agricultural sector. Through a series of reforms it wants to create high-yield, environmentally-friendly farmland, to promote the scaling-up of farms into larger agglomerations, to improve the quality and safety of food, to promote greater mechanisation, and to enable a new generation of professional farmers. It also wants to encourage domestic agribusinesses to invest outside of China in the interests of food safety and food security.

These reforms will change the make-up of China’s trade in agricultural commodities. China is Australia’s most important export destination for agricultural primary products, a trade that will accelerate under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).  It is important that Australia better understand the implications of a changing agricultural sector in China, both in terms of trade and growing Chinese investment in Australian agribusiness.

To understand this changing environment and its implications for Australia, the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies is holding a conference to examine the policy and fiscal environment driving agricultural reforms and outward investment, and how the reorganisation of Chinese farms is playing out on the ground. This conference brings together leading experts from China, Australia and elsewhere to initiate a public discussion on the macro policy environment for agriculture, agrarian change and agricultural restructuring, and trade and investment.