Sunday, 5 August 2012

Chinese Buying Australian Farms

Read more: Sell the farm to buy a future as China's food bowl

There have been worries expressed at Chinese agricultural interests buying Australian farm land. The main issues with this seem to be the idea that the Chinese investor will use the land for Chinese interests rather than Australian interests. Many say that if a Chinese investor owns Australian land and grows food on it, it will export all its food back to China and leave nothing for Australians or it will export so much to China that food prices will rise.

The only thing I have to say to this argument is that it is already happening. It doesn't matter if the farmer is Chinese, Australian, American, or any other nationality. Investors only care about making more money and will export their products to wherever there is highest demand. Australian farmers and especially miners (e.g. BHP) already export significant amounts of agriculture and resources to the rest of the world, especially Asia. To think that simply changing the nationality of the investor will change anything is absurd. If Australians want to limit how much food is exported overseas, it can implement this by imposing trade restrictions on farmers, but this is highly unlikely as politicians should recognise that there are many benefits to farmers exporting their food overseas.

Patriotism is a tool that rich people use to ensure poor people are loyal and obedient to them. When patriotism is not profitable, rich people are quick to drop it. Farmers would love to tell Australians to support the local industry and buy Australian made food as they benefit from the higher demand. But farmers are very happy to start exporting the bulk of their food to other countries to maximise their profits rather than keep it all in Australia to lower prices for Australian consumers.

The same story unfolded in the Australian retail sector. Australian retailers will tell Australian consumers that they need to be patriotic and support Australian products. Of course they will say this because they are making money off the Australian consumer. But the Australian retailers like Harvey Norman, Myer, and so forth have nothing against importing cheap products from overseas, quadrupling prices, and then selling it to gullible Australian consumers.

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