Comprehensive analysis of Australia's live export trade

​8 July 2014

A new report released today provides the first full analysis of Australia's livestock export trade—including examining the international drivers for the trade and analysing the benefits of live exports to the Australian economy.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) report Live Export Trade Assessment found that in 2011 Australia was the fifth-largest exporter of live cattle, the second-largest exporter of live sheep, and the 13th-largest exporter of live goats in the world.

ABARES Executive Director, Karen Schneider, said Australia typically exports up to 1 million head of cattle per year, up to 3 million head of sheep per year, and up to 80,000 live goats.

“In Australia, employment generated from the livestock export industries is estimated to be between 8000 and 10,000 people, including employment opportunities for Indigenous people in the northern Australian live export region,” Ms Schneider said.

“The study also analysed the demand for live exports, and found that in Australia's livestock export markets, a number of factors determine an importing country's demand for live animals over meat. These factors also influence the likelihood of a country substituting Australian live animals with meat imports.

“It's important to note that we found that the absence of Australian livestock in overseas markets could not necessarily directly translate into increased meat imports from Australia. Many other countries supply meat less expensively, and, in livestock Australia has many strong competitors in Africa and Europe.

“The report shows our primary markets for Australian livestock exports are South-East Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. In 2013, the combined value of cattle, sheep and goat exports was $685.5 million (excluding breeder and dairy cattle). ABARES latest forecast is for cattle and sheep exports to rise significantly in 2014–15 to $1 billion.

To read the full report, visit

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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