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May 30, 2022 View:

Australian farmers call on government to nurture trade ties with China

Australian farmers have called on the Morrison government to nurture trade relations with China after wine was subjected to an anti-dumping case in China, foreign media said recently.

Image from: Reference News

Amid concerns that the dispute with China could intensify further, the National Farmers Federation of Australia told the media that it has no reason to think Beijing will expand trade investigations beyond Australian barley, red meat and wine, the Guardian reported on Aug. 19.

The federation"s chief executive, Tony Mahar, believes the government and industry need to do all they can to ensure smooth communication between the two countries, noting that Australia's trade relationship with China is vast and diverse.

As a nation, we must continue to nurture and advance the relationship between our two countries, whether it's exports of agricultural products, minerals, tourism or education," he said.

Wool, cotton, grains, milk, seafood and horticultural products are among Australia's top agricultural exports to China, the report said. The call to nurture relations between the two countries comes after China's Ministry of Commerce decided Tuesday to launch an investigation into the dumping of Australian wine into the Chinese market at artificially low prices.

Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has revealed that he has not been able to speak with the Chinese Commerce Minister despite months of requests to do so.

Scott Morrison tried to persuade China on Wednesday that the relationship between the two countries is mutually beneficial and that China benefits from the high quality products and services we provide, the report said.

But Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon blamed Morrison for the deterioration of relations between the two countries.

Another report on the website of Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported on August 20 that although the Australian wine industry hopes that China will drop its anti-dumping investigations against Australian imports, as it did with the European Union a few years ago, however, this outcome seems unlikely in a more tense international trade environment and with less bargaining power.

The report mentioned that China's Ministry of Commerce confirmed on Tuesday that it would launch an investigation into some cheap Australian wines being sold in China at below-market prices.

The investigation could lead to penalties against certain Australian wine importers, the report said. The investigation is the latest issue to arise in the bilateral relationship.

Australian winemakers have warned that any Chinese penalties on their imports would effectively shut down the market for many of their products, the report said. Australia's annual wine exports to China account for nearly 40 percent of its annual production and are worth A$1 billion ($723 million).

In what was seen as a retaliatory measure against Europe for imposing punitive tariffs on Chinese solar panels, China launched a similar investigation into European wine imports in 2013, the report mentioned.

Giovanni DiLetto, an international trade law expert at Monash University Business School in Australia, said the termination of China's anti-dumping investigation case against the European wine industry gives Australian winemakers a glimmer of hope.

The Chinese investigation of the Australian wine industry is very similar to previous actions against the European Union, both of which were legal. Diletto added.

However, given the more difficult geopolitical environment we find ourselves in today, Australia has had to work harder than the EU to persuade China to give up or moderate its demands, not to mention that Australia does not have the same bargaining power as the EU.