Wednesday, August 4, 2021
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Australia ups the ante in row with China because it seeks WTO assist over 80% barley tariff hike

Australia has launched a World Commerce Group probe into Chinese language commerce levies – hiked past 80 % final spring – Canberra’s commerce chief stated, as rising tensions between the 2 sides proceed to spiral.

“That is the logical and acceptable subsequent step for Australia to take,” Commerce Minister Simon Birmingham instructed reporters on Wednesday, arguing the transfer, the primary of its form between the 2 nations on the WTO, would defend the pursuits of Australian producers.

We’re extremely assured that primarily based on the proof, information, and evaluation that we’ve put collectively already, Australia has an extremely robust case to mount in relation to defending the integrity and propriety of our grain growers and barley producers.

Imposed in Might, Beijing’s tariff hike got here after the nation’s Ministry of Commerce complained that “home trade” had “suffered substantial harm” from the Australian barley imports, successfully closing off the Chinese language market and costing the Australian financial system some AU$500 (US$369) million per yr. Birmingham slammed the choice on the time, hinting in November that Canberra would look to settle the problem by the WTO.

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Although the commerce minister stated the matter was taken up with the worldwide physique on Wednesday, he nonetheless voiced hopes that it “could possibly be resolved previous to going to the WTO dispute decision course of,” which he added is a time-consuming course of that “might take years.”

“We stand able to work with China at any stage to resolve this problem in a cooperative method, as we’ve beforehand carried out with different nations,” he went on. “We have now continued to lift our issues with China on quite a few events each bilaterally and thru the related WTO committees.”

Birmingham’s announcement got here lower than a day after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison instructed that Beijing would violate WTO guidelines, in addition to a bilateral commerce deal, if it moved to slap restrictions on Australian coal, as was indicated in a latest report in Chinese language state media. Requested in regards to the remarks, Chinese language International Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin supplied no particulars, however referred to “latest measures taken by the Chinese language authorities on some imported merchandise from Australia,” insisting they’re “in step with China’s legal guidelines and laws.”

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Tensions between the 2 nations have ramped up in recent times, largely kicked off after Canberra banned Chinese language telecoms Huawei and ZTE from its 5G rollout. Relations soured additional after Australia known as for a global inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus outbreak in April, prompting accusations from Beijing that Australian lawmakers had been performing on marching orders from Washington.

Whereas tensions had been anticipated to ease after the 2 international locations turned a part of one of many world’s largest free commerce blocs – with 15 states signing a large deal referred to as the Regional Complete Financial Partnership (RCEP) in November – the pact seems to have carried out little to resolve the continuing commerce spat.

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