Australia, China reach agreement to resolve barley dispute
Sydney, Australia, Apr 11 (EFE).- Australia announced Tuesday that it had reached an agreement with China to resolve a dispute over the tariffs imposed by Beijing on Australian barley.
“Following recent constructive dialogue at all levels, we welcome China’s agreement to undertake an expedited review of the duties over a three-month period, which may extend to a fourth if required,” Australian Foreign Secretary Penny Wong said in a statement.
In return, Australia will temporarily suspend the appeal it has filed against the tariffs to the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the agreed review period, Wong said in the joint statement with Trade and Tourism Minister Don Farrell, and Agriculture Minister Murray Watt.
“If the duties are not lifted at the end of the review period, Australia will resume the dispute in the WTO,” she added.
China imposed an 80.5 percent tariff on Australian barley in May 2020 for five years, a measure that “has effectively blocked” Australian exports of the product to the Asian giant – a market that was valued at about AU$916 million ($610 million) in the 2018-19 fiscal year -, according to the statement.
These tariffs are part of a series of restrictions that Beijing imposed in 2020 on several Australian products, including wine, coal, lobster and timber, among others.
The measures were imposed after the government of then Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an investigation into the origin of Covid-19, although China, Australia’s largest trading partner, denies that this was the reason.
Bilateral relations between the two countries have eased somewhat after Labor’s Anthony Albanese came to power in May 2022, leading to the resumption of coal trading earlier this year, although other disputes remain and have been brought to the WTO.
“If today’s agreement is successful in providing a pathway for lifting duties on barley, we expect a similar process to be followed to remove trade barriers for Australian wine,” the Australian ministers said in Tuesday’s statement.
This bilateral thaw occurs despite the signing of the AUKUS security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, which includes the Australian acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines.
The defense agreement is seen as a counter to China’s growing influence in the strategic Indo-Pacific region, among other geopolitical and ideological divergences. EFE