Australia is not engaged in a trade war with China nor will it seek retaliation against Beijing for the imposition of 80 per cent tariffs on the country’s barley, a Minister said on Tuesday.
“There’s no trade war. In fact, even today, I think you have seen that there’s increased demand for iron ore out of China,” Agriculture Minister David Littleproud told reporters.
Both countries continue to exchange various agricultural and mineral raw materials as well as other services, he added.
On Monday night, China imposed tariffs on Australian barley on the grounds that it is subsidized and sold to the Asian giant below production cost, reports Efe news.
This measure against what China claims is unfair competition for Australian barley – of which exports to China exceeded A$1.5 billion ($979 million) in 2018 – comes nearly a week after the Asian giant suspended imports of Australian beef.
The suspension of meat imports by China jeopardized monthly sales of A$200 million ($129 million) and raised fears about other potential reprisals against the dairy sector and other agricultural products.
These trade measures by China have been interpreted as retaliation against Australia after Chinese ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, suggested a possible boycott of Australian products following a proposal by Australia for a “transparent” investigation into the origin of the novel coronavirus, which was endorsed at the World Health Assembly on Monday night.
Australian Trade Minister Simon Birminghan told reporters that “China denies there’s a link” between the two issues and said that the only thing Australia could do was to “engage in the process as constructively as we can” to discuss ways to appeal the imposition of tariffs.
China is Australia’s biggest trading partner with bilateral trade of A$235 billion in the 2018-19 financial year, an increase of 20.5 percent over the previous period.
The bilateral relationship has deteriorated due to issues such as the militarization of the Asian giant or the approval in Australia of laws against foreign interference and espionage after uncovering Chinese donations to political parties and cyber attacks on state agencies and universities attributed to Beijing.