$102m investment in livestock ships

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

Global livestock and meat trading company Hijazi & Ghosheh Group is investing $102 million on two state-of-the-art, Australian-accredited livestock ships with an eye on the booming South East Asian and Chinese markets.

The new ships will add to the company's fleet of four ships and increase its carrying capacity to 360,000 sheep, or 150,000 sheep plus 60,000 cattle, which will make it the largest capacity Australian Maritime Safety Authority-approved private carrier in the world.

Jordanian-based H&G Group, which is supplied livestock by Livestock Shipping Services, is financing the new ships.

LSS managing director Ahmad Ghosheh said the company felt a sense of restored confidence towards the live export industry from the Federal Government.

"The current level of support the industry is receiving was a decisive factor in the H&G Group's increased investment within the livestock industry in Australia," he said.

Mr Ghosheh said the new ships would increase the combined carriers' capacity by about 16,000 cattle and plans to have the ships in the water by June next year.

"The group has currently commissioned a shipyard in Tuzla, Turkey, to convert two container ships to livestock carriers," he said.

"Then the new ships must be accredited by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is the highest standard in the world for livestock carriers.

"The accreditation process will involve the group fleet manager consulting with the Federal Government as well as department officials visiting the shipyard during the vessels' construction."

Mr Ghosheh said the welfare standards of the new ships would be state-of-the-art.

"Both ships have been designed to incorporate a new patented ventilation system," he said.

"The system is already operating efficiently on one of the group's existing vessels at the moment.

"We believe the system is not only the best air change system of any livestock carrier but we also believe it is green friendly because it uses much less fuel than other systems."

Mr Ghosheh said Australia had a shipping capacity shortage and the company believed the new ships would assist with the booming South East Asian demand as well as LSS' other traditional markets.

"That is especially the case for us in Indonesia with the significant increase in Australia's quota numbers," he said.

"Last week, three of the H&G Group ships loaded about 32,000 cattle to South East Asia for other exporters and the company is committed to increasing the capacity to get the tonnage to the growing Asian market."

Mr Ghosheh also said the company had a keen eye on the opportunities in China resulting from last month's historic Australia-China free trade agreement.

"We are looking forward to the livestock export protocol to be finalised with China, and then it will be a very good outcome for Australian producers and investors," he said.

"But we're also continuing to actively target markets like Iran and we hope to have that particular market operational within six to 12 months. Russia is also opening up and we're also exploring Kazakhstan."

Mr Ghosheh said LSS and the broader H&G Group had a commitment to continually improve animal welfare standards, and as part of that commitment, it was investing in "closed loop" supply chains.

"H&G's investment in the supply chain does not stop when the livestock hits the market in the Middle East," he said.

"We've been building abattoirs and feedlots in the supply chains of many of our markets, which include oversight of Australian consultants at every part of the chain.

"The company also has plans on the drawing board for many more."

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