China’s deliberate trade actions against Australia

The Australian government has accused China of undermining their free trade agreement over a series of actions by Beijing against Australian export goods. In the latest stous with its number one trading partner, China has imposed levies of up to 212 per cent on Australian wine exports.

In his strongest comments yet, Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said China had “targeted” a dozen Australian goods amid tensions between the countries, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

China banned imports of logs from a second Australian state from Wednesday, the latest in a series of trade blocks. It adds to a growing list of Australian exports that have become entangled in a diplomatic war of words between the two countries, including barley, coal, timber and meat.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says China’s trade conflicts are not just hurting Australian businesses but undermining global confidence and the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is a matter for Chinese authorities to speak plainly and clearly about what it is driving this consistent trend of actions,” Senator Birmingham said. “What we want to see is that assertiveness channeled into good, into engaging in ways with the rest of the world, that helps to drive economic growth rather than dampens it,” he added.

“We will do everything we can to ensure we can try and address these trade issues that have come up with China – technicality issues that they have raised – but obviously we are very concerned about that,” he said.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin says Australia’s excessive criticisms of Xinjiang, Taiwan and Hong Kong has ‘poisoned’ the relationship. While the trade argy-bargy continues, data last week showed Australian iron ore exports reached a record high of $10.9 billion in October, most of which was destined for China.

“The Australian government is considering all dispute settlement options in order to support our exporters.” Senator Birmingham said Australia’s door remained open for ministerial dialogue, adding he had requested meetings at regular intervals, most recently last week. “Australia remains committed to constructive and workable relations with China,” he said.

By Karishma Gwalani

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