In the latest development in international trade relations, Australia has voiced its disappointment over China’s request for an additional month to finalize a review on barley tariffs. The Australian government has threatened to resume its previously suspended World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute if the delay continues.
Earlier this year, on April 11, Australia put a temporary hold on its WTO case concerning China’s anti-dumping and countervailing duties on barley. This move followed China’s assurance that it would expedite its tariff review process. The agreement, forged between the leading commodity trade partners, mandated China to complete the review within three months, with an optional additional month if necessary.
As a spokesperson for Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Trade Minister Don Farrell commented, “China has now requested this one-month extension, which we have agreed to”. However, the spokesperson expressed Australia’s disappointment over China’s inability to finalize the review within the initial three-month timeframe, while remaining optimistic about overcoming this barrier in the future.
The backdrop to this development is Australia’s attempt to stabilize ties and lift trade barriers with China. The bilateral relationship experienced a downturn when Australia demanded an investigation into the origins of Covid-19, which drew China’s ire. However, there has been a slight thawing of tensions since the centre-left Labour government came into power in May 2022. Chinese purchases of Australian coal resumed in January, after nearly three years, along with timber in May. Additionally, imports of beef have been on the rise.
Don Farrell made a significant visit to Beijing in May, the first by an Australian trade minister since 2019. He conveyed his expectations of a “favourable decision” from China, Australia’s primary trade partner, concerning barley tariffs.
However, if these duties remain unaltered by the end of the extended period, Australia is prepared to reactivate its WTO dispute, the government spokesperson confirmed. It’s worth noting that China, in 2020, had imposed combined duties of 80.5% on Australian barley for five years, triggering Australia’s formal appeal to the WTO and the formation of a dispute settlement panel.
This news is based on an article by malaymail.com.