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Australia WTO action on barley tariffs won't be easy, embattled sugar industry says

02:14  20 may  2020
02:14  20 may  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

Australia has become reliant on a country ‘who’s shown us that they are an enemy’

  Australia has become reliant on a country ‘who’s shown us that they are an enemy’ Leader of Katter’s Australia Party Robbie Katter says until Australia can “learn to cut China out of the equation” in most respects, we will “always have a weak bargaining position”. China has given the nation’s barley producers ten days before potentially imposing close to an 80 per cent tax on its barley imports.This comes as an ongoing committee into the need for diversification in Australia’s trade relationships is preparing to call on the Chinese Ambassador to Australia to give testimony.Mr Katter described the current jostling between the Australian and Chinese governments as “certainly a game of brinkmanship”.

The tariffs are due to last five years. "To say that I'm disappointed is an understatement," Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said in response. Littleproud said Australian barley farmers would now seek to pursue other export markets -- but filling the hole left by Beijing will not be easy .

Canberra said it may seek remedial action to overturn almost 81 percent in tariffs on barley exports -- the latest in a series of Chinese sanctions Australia said its barley farmers will now seek to pursue other export markets, including in the Middle East, but filling the hole left by Beijing will not be easy .

Australia is pursuing India through the WTO over claims of illegal subsidies that have depressed world sugar prices. (ABC Rural: Charlie McKillop) © Provided by ABC Health Australia is pursuing India through the WTO over claims of illegal subsidies that have depressed world sugar prices. (ABC Rural: Charlie McKillop) Australian barley growers pinning their hopes on a tariff resolution with China through the World Trade Organization (WTO) could face a frustrating process.

This week China , claiming the product had been imported against trade rules.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said Australia was still working through the claims, but was serious about prosecuting its case through the WTO if it could not reach a resolution with China.

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China said on Monday it would apply an 80.5% tariff on Australian barley imports for the next five years, a move expected to all but halt a billion-dollar A second Australian government official said a WTO appeal would take at least two years, and risked escalating trade tensions with China just as

The tariffs were imposed on the same day President Xi Jinping told the World Health Assembly, the governing body of the Geneva-based World Health Grain Producers Australia Chairman Andrew Weidemann told Sky News that the tariffs could cost the barley industry more than A0 million.

"If we believe that we haven't been understood appropriately, then the next course of action for us is to refer it to the World Trade Organization," Mr Littleproud said.

"We took India to the WTO on sugar, so … we have a strong and proud record of standing up for Australian farmers, but we do that calmly and methodically after understanding the facts and the evidence provided to us."

Waiting game

But that process could be a long and protracted one, as Australia's sugar industry has found.

In 2018, the Australian Government, accusing India of distorting the global sugar price through subsidies.

Last year the WTO agreed to establish a panel to investigate and rule on whether India's high sugarcane prices and export subsidies exceeded its WTO obligations.

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Australia will consider approaching The World Trade Organization ( WTO ) after China announced anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties totalling 80.5 China’s Ministry of Commerce on Monday said it had confirmed dumping by Australia and significant damage on its domestic industry as a result, following

Australian minister claims Chinese beer drinkers will be the victims of 'ridiculous' tariffs - as Beijing will be forced to buy 'expensive and substandard' produce elsewhere. He said China's brewers and maltsters preferred Australian barley , but would turn to supplies from Europe and North America.

But the process has been further complicated by travel restrictions and India has refused to participate in online hearings.

"We've got now a bit of a wait to see what the global response is to travel and lifting of restrictions," said David Rynne, economics, policy and trade director with the Australian Sugar Millers Council.

"So while there is a lot of information sharing going on … that next formal step can't occur until we can physically convene in Geneva."

Even chance

Mr Rynne said when trade rules were breached and countries aggrieved, there were multiple mechanisms available to resolve disputes.

"What we've see over the years, since the WTO was formed, is that roughly 50 per cent of grievances get sorted out diplomatically … countries get in a room and they sort it out and something is negotiated.

"The other 50 per cent of the time, when those negotiations break down, the option for parties is the WTO and that's what's happened in the sugar case.

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A vessel laden with Australian barley has swung away from China after the Asian country slapped anti-dumping duties on imports of the grain for five years amid escalating bilateral diplomatic tensions.

The tariffs were imposed on the same day President Xi Jinping told the World Health Assembly, the The Chinese government has denied its trade action is linked to the call for a virus probe It’s anti-dumping probe into barley has been underway for about 18 months. “China never says it’s retaliation

"What happens in the barley dispute — who knows?

"Hopefully the parties get together and resolve the issues without having to go down that WTO process."

Insular trend

Mr Rynne said he was very confident that, in the case of the sugar industry, there were clear breaches and that the umpire's decision would go Australia's way.

"[But] we need governments to make sure that the WTO framework holds together and there is a mechanism by which countries like Australia and aggrieved industries … have an avenue to be able to say, 'Hey, there's a distortion, there's an inequity happening here, it needs to be resolved or the viability of certain industries is at risk,'" he said.

Mr Rynne said Australia, as a small open economy, had benefitted from free trade over a long period of time.

"We've opened ourselves up to competition and we've borne the fruit of that through enormous efficiencies and productivity gains in what we do," he said.

"Not all countries think the same — a lot of countries think very internally, it's about protectionism, it's about control and regulations.

"Generally I think the global trend is for countries to become a little bit more insular, to protect themselves, not be as exposed as what they were.

"That is not a very good trend for the Australian economy, where we rely on fair and open-traded markets."

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Australia won't be swayed by China threats, Dutton says .
Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton says Australia will not be intimidated by China's tariff threats amid reports coal exporters could face tougher selling restrictions. New inspection regulations for iron ore imports in China and a decision to slap 80 per cent tariffs on Australian barley imports has already seen the trade war with Beijing escalate.Some beef exports from Australian farms have also been banned."We have beliefs and values - and we're going to stand by those," Mr Dutton told Today."We don't believe there is a reasonable case in relation to the taxes, tariffs imposed by China.

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