China drops tariffs against Australian barley
4th August 2023

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Singapore: China has dropped its tariffs against Australian barley, putting an end to a three-year dispute that went to the World Trade Organisation and helped relations between Beijing and Canberra fall to historic lows.

China’s Commerce Ministry said it had decided to end tariffs of up to 80 per cent on the $1.2 billion barley imports after a request from the China Wine Industry Association.

China has lifted tarrifs on Australian barley. Credit: Bloomberg

“In view of the changes in China’s barley market, it is no longer necessary to continue to impose anti-dumping duties and countervailing duties on imported barley from Australia,” the ministry said on Friday.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he welcomed the decision.

“This is a good outcome,” he said. “One in four Australian jobs is about trade. I have said very clearly on China that we will cooperate where we can, we will disagree where we must, but we’ll engage in our national interest.”

Barley, which is mainly used in animal feed and beer production in China, is the second Australian export to have restrictions removed by the Chinese government after more than three years of diplomatic hostility over national security, human rights and COVID-19.

China froze ministerial contact and imposed more than $20 billion in tariffs across half-a-dozen industries at the height of its diplomatic disputes with Australia.

Australian coal returned to China in February after Chinese regulators issued verbal instructions to coal importers in 2020 to stop importing the $14 billion export.

Relations with Beijing have stabilised since the Labor government came to power last year but restrictions on wine, lobsters, beef and cotton remain in place.

Beijing has claimed the restrictions were due to pests, labelling and concerns over dumping. Those claims were disputed by the former Liberal government, which accused Beijing of economic coercion.

Former trade minister Simon Birmingham took China to the World Trade Organisation over the barley tariffs in December 2020 and his successor Dan Tehan lodged a complaint over tariffs of up to 200 per cent on Australian wine exports in June 2021.

The wine case remains before the international umpire.

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