The Australian and Cambodian governments moved closer to a live cattle trade deal this week after meeting in Phnom Penh to discuss details of the agreement.
Cambodian Minister for Agriculture Ouk Rabun met with Australia’s Northern Territory minister for primary industry, Willem Westra van Holthe.
Health standards were a priority for completion of the agreement, Van Holthe said. “In the first instance, Australian and Northern Territory authorities will work closely with existing feedlots and abattoirs to bring them to ESCAS standards,” he said in an email.
“This ensures that animal welfare standards are met and maintained as the basis for a sustainable trade in live cattle.”
Australia’s ESCAS, or Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System, details the sanitary requirements and animal treatment obligations at slaughterhouses and export facilities.
With assistance from Australian authorities, van Holthe expects that Cambodia’s facilities will be up to standard and begin receiving live cattle for slaughter next year.
“The first trial shipment of cattle from the Northern Territory to Cambodia will most likely be small in number, but with the hope that it will increase over time to become quite significant,” he said.
The Cambodian cattle deal, while representing a small market, adds to Australia’s Southeast Asia export footprint, which already includes importing nations Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore.
“Once commercial arrangements have been made between farmers, exporters, importers and consumers in Cambodia, I hope there will be a win-win for our farmers and Cambodian consumers,” Van Holthe said.
Just one company is expected to meet Australia’s ESCAS standards. SLN Meat Supply, located in Preah Sihanouk province, has been building a $15 million factory to receive and process the Australian cattle since August this year.
Hor Sim Leang, managing director of SLN Meat Supply, said yesterday that the facility was 80 per cent complete and expected it to be ready to receive cattle in January.
“It’s looking good. I think it will be the best one in Asia,” he said, adding that Australian officials had conducted regular inspections of the slaughterhouse.
The Ministry of Agriculture declined to comment.