Asia Today: Australia disappointed by China's barley tariffs
Tuesday, 19 May 2020
BANGKOK (AP) — Australia’s trade minister has described as “deeply disappointing” China’s decision to place tariffs of around 80% on Australian barley in a dispute that has been linked to Australian support for a coronavirus inquiry.
The tariffs that take effect Tuesday come a week after China banned beef imports from Australia’s four largest abattoirs over labeling issues.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham rejects China’s claim that barley is subsidized by the Australian government.
Birmingham also says Australia could appeal to the World Trade Organization to resolve both the beef and barley disputes.
Birmingham said he has tried without success to speak to his Chinese counterpart Zhong Shan for the past week.
In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian says China is looking into trade issues between the sides “in accordance with related laws and World Trade Organization rules.”
Australian barley farmer Andrew Weidemann says the tariff barrier “stops the trade completely” with Australia’s biggest customer.
Weidemann estimates the tariffs will cost the Australian economy more than 500 million Australian dollars ($326 million).
He says China has been investigating Australian barley for 18 months, but Australia’s call for a coronavirus inquiry “didn’t help.”
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
— SOUTH KOREA SCHOOLS TO REOPEN: South Korea has reported 13 fresh cases, a possible sign that a recent outbreak in the capital area is stabilizing, as officials prepare to reopen schools. Nine of the new cases were from Seoul and nearby regions, where dozens of infections have been linked to clubgoers who went out in early May as the country began relaxing social distancing measures. Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip urged...
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