If the current trade spat with China impacting our wine, barley, beef, lobster and coal isn’t enough to cope with the Qatari government has cancelled the subsidy of their lamb import programme from Australia, which had been in place since 2015. This subsidy program was not due to finish until 2023 and has been cancelled, coming into effect at the end of 2020.
The import subsidy program saw Qatar’s market share of total Australian lamb exports grow from 4.3% in 2014 to 7.5% this season. Relatively strong volumes of Aussie lamb exports during 2020 has seen Qatar move in to the third top destination for Australian lamb, behind China and the USA, at 24.7% and 22.9% – respectively.
Average monthly Australian lamb trade volumes to Qatar had been running at around 1,619 tonnes swt per month this season, 13% higher than the five-year average trend, after rebounding strongly from the Covid-19 dip in volumes seen during May/June.
While the Australian lamb export market is a strong an diverse sector the loss of such a big player is of concern, particularly with the overlay of continued trade disruption across other key agricultural commodities with our biggest trade partner, China.
Hopefully, our diplomats, trade envoys and politicians can turn the boat around ASAP to support our producers and the heavily export orientated agricultural sector.