West Australian Premier Colin Barnett is “very optimistic” a new trade agreement will see hundreds of thousands of live cattle exported to China.

china map in red on fawn image

A memorandum of understanding has been signed by Mr Barnett and Xia Baolong, party secretary of Zhejiang – WA’s sister province in eastern China.

The premier said on Wednesday he only mentioned the idea in June when he last visited China and stressed that the deal was still in its early stages.

“This would be a market as big, if not bigger, than the Indonesian market for our industry,” he told ABC 720.

“There’s no doubt there is a massive demand for meat, for protein, and for high quality and safe meat.”

Under the proposal, cattle would be transported live from WA to a new abattoir built in Zhejiang and the meat would be distributed from there.

Mr Barnett said he hoped approvals would be granted in Australia and China over the next six months including checks on health standards.

Private sector investment options would also be investigated over that time, he said.

“I’m optimistic that this will succeed,” Mr Barnett said.

Opposition leader Mark McGowan said he would wait and see whether the signing would actually result in an increase in trade.

“We’ve seen these MoUs signed by the premier before and nothing has resulted as a consequence,” he told ABC 720.

“Let’s wait and see down the track whether this actually amounts to what he says it’s amounting to.”