Australia will challenge China at the World Trade Organization over Beijing’s decision to impose heavy tariffs on barley exports, another sign of deteriorating relations between the two major trading partners.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said on Wednesday that the government had advised Beijing’s counterparts to “request formal consultations with China.” The dispute process may take years to resolve, but the organization must recognize that the tariff is “nothing short of facts and evidence,” he said.
“We will make this formal request to the World Trade Organization tonight,” Birmingham told reporters. “WTO dispute resolution processes are not perfect, and they take longer than is ideal, but ultimately, this is the right avenue for Australia.”
China killed Australian barley Tariffs at a rate of over 80% in May after allegations of dumping grain in the country and subsidizing its producers. According to estimates from industry group GrainGrowers, Australian producers could cost as much as $ 2.5 billion ($ 1.9 billion) over the next five years.
“We are confident that based on the evidence, data and analysis we have already put in place, that Australia has an incredibly strong case,” Birmingham said.
A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry told reporters at a briefing in Beijing on Wednesday to contact the concerned department, which declined to comment specifically on the matter. A representative from the Ministry of Commerce did not respond to an earlier request for comment.
The WTO dispute settlement can often be a drawn-out process and the results are not expected to be known for at least months. a The recent case involving China and the US took almost two years, when a panel ruled in September that the US broke global rules when it imposed tariffs on Chinese goods in 2018.
Relations between China and Australia have worsened since 2018 when Canberra stopped the Huawei Technologies company from building its own 5G network on national security grounds, and after deteriorating this year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government said the origin of coronovirus Asked for an international investigation. Beijing accused Canberra of being an American puppet and mediating its internal affairs.
This is a clear reversal of the once cordial relationship that hosted a state visit to Australia in 2014 by President Xi Jinping and a comprehensive free-trade agreement signed a year later.
So far this year China has hit Australia with a significant number of trade restrictions on products including copper, wine, wood and lobster amidst diplomatic ties. Although some products, such as wines, have been hit with anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties, others including lobster and logs have faced delays at customs or increased inspections for pests.
On Wednesday, China reiterated Canberra to act to improve relations.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, “The Australian side has taken some discriminatory actions against Chinese companies in violation of international practices.” “We hope The Australian side will take China’s concerns seriously and take concrete steps to correct such discriminatory actions. “
Wang did A few days ago listed some of the problems seen by China, including a ban on Huawei and the withholding of more than a dozen investments by Chinese companies in Australia.
Birmingham did not rule out the possibility of raising further World Trade Organization challenges against China, saying that anti-dumping claims made by Beijing against the Australian liquor industry could push tariffs More than 200% of people had similar criteria about barley, and that the government has the ability to respond.
He added that Beijing’s actions raised the risk profile for companies around the world to do business with China.
Coal is also being affected. In October, more than 50 ships carrying Australian coal are stranded out of China after they were asked not to unload such shipments verbally to the ports. Those sanctions were formalized after China’s National Development and Reform Commission approved the import of coal without any restrictions, other than Australia, according to a Global Times report.
If this proves to be correct, such a ban would lead to the signing of WTO rules and the free trade agreement between China and Australia in 2015, Morrison told reporters on Tuesday. In a briefing on Wednesday, the NDRC did not address the latest developments with Australia, pointing to efforts to rein in coal prices in the winter.
– assisted by James Megger and Colum Murphy
(Updates with Chinese commentary in the sixth paragraph and from the 11th paragraph.)