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China firm wins bid to develop Australia sugar project

Published on Nov 20, 2012 11:06 AM

CANBERRA (REUTERS) - A Chinese property firm has won the right to develop a 13,400-hectare farm project in Western Australia, aiming to grow sugar in the latest of a series of foreign deals in Australia aimed at securing farm resources to supply Asia.

Shanghai Zhongfu Group will invest A$700 million (S$891 million) in the next six years to set up a sugar industry in the Ord East Kimberley region, the Western Australia state government said on Tuesday.

The move by Zhongfu, trading in Australia as Kimberley Agricultural Investment, comes after a number of high-profile deals involving Chinese investors, including the purchase of the country's biggest cotton farm, as well as foreign takeovers in its deregulated wheat industry.

However, foreign investment in agriculture has sparked a political backlash that some analysts fear could threaten the opportunity for Australia to tap the booming demand to feed Asia's middle-class.

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