Beijing: China is set to import one million live cattle from Australia in a "breakthrough" deal worth one billion dollars, doubling the country's existing live cattle exports and helping its farmers.
"It's a million cattle, worth one billion Australian dollars. The ink is not dry on the contract though," China's state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Australian government minister Christopher Pyne as saying to the Australian media.
"It's a great breakthrough. I mean this is the kind of thing that happens when you have a government that's focused on economic outcomes. So we have a free trade agreement with Japan and South Korea, working on one with China," he said.
Beef is highly sought after food item in China.
Trade officials and Cattle Council of Australia representatives were in Beijing this week sorting out the final details on the deal.
Currently, Australia's biggest export market for live cattle is Indonesia, which took about 625,000 of the 1.13 million head exported in 2013-14.
The size of the deal would amount to a doubling of Australia's existing live cattle exports, prompting critics of the trade to renew calls for it to be shut down.
The new deal will put China as the No 1 export market for live cattle.
China already buys Australian dairy and beef cows for breeding purposes, and took more than 78,000 head of dairy cattle and about 15,000 beef cattle last financial year.
Australian officials are currently in Beijing to thrash out the final sticking points, which they hope will see the deal unveiled during President Xi Jinping's visit to Australia for the G20 summit next week.