LOOMING CHINA TRADE BANS TROUBLING FOR AUSTRALIA, MINISTER SAYS
Australia's Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said that ongoing reports of bans and disruptions to the country's key exports to China were "deeply troubling," Annika Burgess reported for Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa).
Chinese authorities are reportedly planning to halt around 6 billion dollars' (US$4.4 billion) worth of imports of Australian wine, lobsters, sugar, coal, copper, barley and timber. The reports from industry, as well as Chinese state-run tabloid The Global Times, have not been confirmed by Beijing.
In a morning interview with national broadcaster ABC, Birmingham said that although China has denied taking discriminatory actions against Australia, it "doesn't seem to be what industry is seeing and hearing at present."
"There's a lot of inconsistency in what we see and hear," Birmingham said. "We hope that the Chinese government is true to its word and that these issues can be resolved, but there's no denying the fact that the range and extent of concerns that industry are hearing is deeply troubling." This week, millions of dollars' worth of Australian rock lobster was hit with customs restrictions. Barley and timber imports were also held up, with Chinese customs claiming that shipments may have been contaminated. Relations between China and Australia have become increasingly strained this year, after Canberra supported US calls for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.