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Australia ‘No rush' to reopen international borders: Trade Minister

08:41  19 june  2021
08:41  19 june  2021 Source:   smh.com.au

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Trade Minister Dan Tehan © AAP Image/Mick Tsikas Trade Minister Dan Tehan

Trade Minister Dan Tehan says the federal government is negotiating with Singapore about a potential travel bubble with Australia, but is in "no rush to open the borders" to international travel.

Speaking in Melbourne on Saturday, Mr Tehan refused to provide a benchmark, such as a vaccination rate, that would see Australia open up a travel bubble with Singapore, saying it would be up to medical experts.

"It will largely depend on how these various variants play out," he said.

"It has been made very clear we will only create a bubble with Singapore when it is safe to do so and in the meantime we are looking at what would be the processes that would allow that to be as safe as possible."

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His comments came after Prime Minister Scott Morrison told The Weekend Australian the government would spend the next six months monitoring the spread of new COVID-19 variants overseas, and the effectiveness of vaccines against those variants, before making a decision on reopening international borders.

Mr Morrison said identifying people who had been fully vaccinated was key to the creation of further travel bubbles - following Australia's first travel bubble, with New Zealand - with Singapore and potentially Japan and South Korea to follow.

He also told The Australian that foreign students who had been fully vaccinated could be used to trial a new traffic light system for international ­arrivals.

Meanwhile, Mr Tehan announced on Saturday that Australia would take China to the World Trade Organisation over Beijing's decision to slap taxes of up to 212 per cent on Australian wine.

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Following months of consultations with the wine industry and with bilateral talks breaking down, Mr Tehan said it would be up to the World Trade Organisation to help end the deadlock.

"We stand ready to sit down with the Chinese government to work out this current dispute with them but as a result of our bilateral discussions ... not being about to resolve this issue, we are going to the World Trade Organisation," Mr Tehan said.

"Australia strongly believes in the World Trade Organization as a means and a mechanism to try and resolve these disputes."

In March, Beijing slapped tariffs ranging from 116 to 220 per cent on Australian wine amid an ongoing trade war.

China has imposed more than $20 billion of tariffs in response to a number of Australia's moves including calling for a global inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 and banning Chinese telecom Huawei from its 5G rollout.

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Beijing has also imposed tariffs and trade strikes on Australian products including barley, wine, timber, beef and lobster.

Mr Tehan said Australia's wine exports have fallen from $1.1 billion to approximately $20 million as a consequence of China's tariffs.

"We believe the actions taken by the Chinese government have caused serious harm to the Australian wine industry," Mr Tehan said.

The battle over wine tariffs will be the ninth dispute that Australia has taken to the World Trade Organisation.

The federal government expects the trade battle could take between two and four years to resolve, but Mr Tehan said he was still open to direct negotiations with China.

He said he was confident the global trade watchdog could help solve the dispute.

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usr: 1
This is interesting!