The Chinese consortium Sino Marine has entered Australia’s live export trade with a refurbished livestock carrier Yangtze Harmony.
The converted container ship is making its maiden voyage from Fremantle, Western Australia, headed for Oman with 12,500 sheep on board.
The vessel was built for the global live export market, not just the trade between Australia and China. She has already been chartered to take sheep to the Middle East and cattle to South-East Asia.
Consortium spokesman Steve Meerwald told ABC News that live sheep prices were on the rise, and having another exporter operating in the region was good news for producers.
A second converted container ship, Yangtze Fortune, is expected to commence operation later this year. The ships have capacity for up to 5500 cattle and 18,000 sheep, filling a mid-range niche in the market when market dynamics mean that larger vessels are hard to fill.
Australia sent its first sea-bound shipment of live slaughter cattle to China in February. Elders’ North Australian Cattle Company (NACC) opened the sea-bound trade, exporting 1,200 live beef cattle from Portland, Victoria, to Shidao Port in China.