• Tue. Oct 25th, 2022

Qatar has moved to shut down the $300 million a year lamb trade, hot of heels of protests over strip searches of Australian women.

Nov 30, 2020

“For five years everything was going fine, all sweet, and then overnight it is cancelled,” he said.
“It is going to affect a lot of producers and abattoirs across Australia, in Tasmania, in Victoria, in WA.”
Trade minister Simon Birmingham said any suggestion that exports of lamb to Qatar had been banned were incorrect.
Trade minister Simon Birmingham: “Qatar is apparently reviewing the operation of its state-supported import scheme.” Alex Ellinghausen
“Qatar is apparently reviewing the operation of its state-supported import scheme, including possibly moving to a less state-controlled and more market-orientated model,” he said.
“We expect that Australia will experience competition for future contracts under a new model, but that there will be continued demand for premium quality lamb in Qatar.”
The Qatar government has subsidised Australian lamb imports since 2015 but suddenly cancelled the long-standing agreement effective from December 31 even though it was not due to expire until the end of 2023.
In a shock move, Qatar government-controlled Widam Food Company notified markets that Qatar would cease subsidising Australian fresh and chilled meat from the end of the year.
Under the subsidy and associated supply contracts, Australia was exporting about 1.25 million processed lambs and 250,000 live sheep a year to Qatar.
Mr Nol said his company handled about 15 per cent of the exports to Qatar, with lamb air freighted out of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth to the Middle Eastern nation.
“Once the subsidy stops we can’t export any more. It just won’t be viable,” he said.
Mr Nol said the loss of the Qatar market would hit farmers and abattoirs geared up for the trade and have a ripple effect through the supply chain.
“There is going to be a multitude of people affected through to transport companies and airline agents,” he said.
Roger Fletcher, Australia’s biggest sheep meat processor but a relatively small player in the Qatar market, said he understood Qatar had been considering ditching the subsidy for some time.
Qatar might look to Syria and Sudan to fill the void.
The Labor Opposition attacked the Morrison government for not protesting strongly enough after women from several countries, including Australia, were ordered off a Qatar Airways flight, taken into an ambulance and physically searched.
Qatar later said it regretted the searches, carried out as part of an investigation into an abandoned baby found at the airport. The airport officers involved now face jail.
Qatar Airways continued to operate flights to and from Australia at the height of COVID-19 lockdowns and helped maintain a stable supply of sheepmeat into Qatar.
It is understood Qatar subsidises Australian lamb as part of a food supply and security agenda that previously included ownership of big tracts of Australian farmland.
Qatar Investment Authority-owned Hassad Australia sold its farm portfolio to Macquarie Group for $300 million last year and reinvested some of the proceeds in Macquaries agricultural funds.