As the Irish trade mission to China wraps up after a week, the Australians are moving in, with the two countries expected to sign a major cattle deal in the coming days.

The agreement on live cattle exports is expected to be worth in the region of Aus$1bn (€700m) and will see Australia export 1m head of live cattle to China and would see Australia’s live exports double.

The move comes after years of negotiations between the two countries and will further cement the fact that China is Australia’s largest trading partner.

According to The Australian newspaper, 1m cattle will be shipped annually to China and a formal announcement is expected early next week. It quotes Alison Penfold, the Chief Executive of the Australian Live Exporters Council, saying she expects the massive Chinese market will buy as many as 1m beef cattle for slaughter from Australia each year, within a few years.

“We’re all hopeful (it is signed) sooner rather than later, because we all see the massive opportunities that are there for cattle producers across Australia once these Chinese live-export access protocols are finalised,” Ms Penfold is quoted as saying.

According to the newspaper, a delegation of high-level Chin­ese agriculture officials visit­ed Australia last week to complete the technical details of the access standards and quarantine requirements that will underpin the new live-export corridor.

It also states that Australia exported a record 1.13m live beef cattle already this year, valued at more than $1bn, to countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam.

The new deal is expected to boost cattle prices across both northern and southern Australia beyond the record $2.50/kg prices paid by exporters.