Australia Plans to Sue China to WTO Over Barley Tariff Case

  • Ministry of Commerce of China just announced the levy of anti-dumping duties on Australian wine, with a tax rate of up to 212%.
  • Beijing has recently imposed trade sanctions on several types of Australian exports, including wine, barley and beef.
  • Sunday that the Canberra government plans to sue China to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

On Sunday, the Australian Trade Minister stated that the country is preparing to sue China to the WTO, mainly because of the high tariffs imposed by Beijing on Australian barley. As bilateral relations become increasingly tense, Beijing has increased its pressure on Canberra.

Simon Birmingham, Australian Senator

This week, the Ministry of Commerce of China just announced the levy of anti-dumping duties on Australian wine, with a tax rate of up to 212%.

In the context of the intensification of the Australia-China trade dispute, Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said on Sunday that the Canberra government plans to sue China to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“We sought to engage in good faith,” Senator Birmingham said. “We are disappointed that all the evidence, as compelling as we are confident it is, was rejected by the Chinese authorities and that appeal was unsuccessful.”

Beijing has recently imposed trade sanctions on several types of Australian exports, including wine, barley and beef. Canberra previously urged China to withdraw its punitive tariffs on Australian barley, which was rejected by Beijing.

In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation ABC on Sunday, Simon Birmingham revealed that “the next step will be to file a complaint in the WTO on the barley tariffs.” The Australian government is already negotiating relevant steps.

Birmingham also revealed that the government is studying the specific time for the appeal and “ensure that there is evidence.” According to the “Sydney Morning Herald” (SMH) report, the Australian grain plantation industry has expressed support for the government to report China’s high tariffs on barley to the WTO.

The trade minister said that last week Australia had expressed concerns to the WTO Council for Trade in Goods over China’s repeated decisions that are not conducive to trade. However, disputes about wine export issues still need to complete domestic litigation procedures.

“There are different opinions, to be quite frank there,” Senator Birmingham said. “But on the whole Australia stands by the rules-based system for international trade and if you stand by the rules-based system, you should also use that rules-based system, which includes calling out where you think the rules have been broken and calling in the international umpire to help resolve those disputes.”

This Friday, China announced its decision to impose anti-dumping duties on Australian wine and said that China’s domestic wine market has suffered “substantial damage” due to the dumping of Australian wine.

The announcement of the Ministry of Commerce pointed out that starting from November 28, a tariff of 107% to 212.1% will be imposed on wine imported from Australia in the form of a deposit. At present, China’s anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Australian barley are also as high as 80.5%.

Australian wine

Australia-China bilateral relations have continued to deteriorate in the past two years, after the Canberra government decided to ban Huawei from participating in the country’s 5G network construction.

In the political field, Australia’s call for an independent investigation of the origin of the new coronavirus, and actions such as condemning China’s human rights violations on the Uyghur issue and Hong Kong issue have aroused strong dissatisfaction in Beijing.

As Australia’s most important trading partner, China has adopted a series of “punishment” measures against it, such as trade sanctions, investment restrictions, and travel bans.

Beijing has imposed trade sanctions on products in seven key areas of Australia, including wine, barley, timber, cotton and Australian lobster. The total value of commodities involved in these sanctions is as high as $6 billion. Since about one-third of Australian exports were originally sold to China, these sanctions have dealt a heavy blow to related industries.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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