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China lifts trade barriers on Australian barley imports after three years as sign of improved bilateral ties

China imposed barriers on Australian barley trade amid strained with Canberra after then-Australian PM Scott Morrison called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic

Canberra
Published on: August 04, 2023 18:27 IST
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Australian PM Anthony
Image Source : AP Chinese President Xi Jinping and Australian PM Anthony Albanese

After three years, China on Friday announced that it will lift tariffs on Australian barley imports that affected trade worth billions of dollars, signalling an improvement in bilateral relations with Canberra. The move was welcomed by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, ahead of his visit to China later this year.

China's decision comes after Australia suspended its case at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over the tariffs imposed by Beijing. The duties will be dropped from Saturday, said the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

"In view of the changes in China's barley market, it was unnecessary to continue to impose anti-dumping duties and countervailing duties on imported barley from Australia," said the Commerce Ministry in a statement.

China is Australia's biggest trading partner, with bilateral trade between them estimated at $287 billion in 2022. In 2020, China imposed an 80.5% tariff on Australian barley as relations between Beijing and Canberra sharply deteriorated after then-Australian PM Scott Morrison called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the trade barriers were imposed, barley exports to China averaged around $790 million every year.

When Albanese's government was elected last year, he demanded that Beijing drop trade barriers against Australian imports of barley, wine, coal, beef, wood and seafood, which were costing $15 billion every year. Relations between the two countries improved after Albanese came into power.

“This is a very positive decision,” Albanese told the media, while referring to the latest decision by China. Now, Canberra is urging China to lift trade barriers on Australian wine, which is the subject of another complaint at the WTO. The trade barriers had heavily affected the Australian wine industry, effectively cutting off one of its most sought-after markets.

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