Australia says it doesn't want trade war with China
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s trade minister said Tuesday that his country does not want a trade war with China, but maintained Beijing had erred by imposing stiff tariffs on Australian barley in what is widely seen as punishment for advocating an investigation into the coronavirus pandemic.
China effectively ended imports of Australian barley by putting tariffs of more than 80% on the crop, accusing Australia of breaching World Trade Organization rules by subsidizing barley production and selling the crop in China at below production costs. The move came a week after China banned beef imports from Australia’s four largest abattoirs over labeling issues.
“Australia is not interested in a trade war. We don’t pursue our trade policies on a tit-for-tat basis,” Trade Minister Simon Birmingham told reporters. “We operate according to the trade rules that we strongly support.”
Birmingham said China “has made errors of both fact and law” in applying WTO rules, adding that there was no evidence that Australia was engaged in dumping of products.
The trade dispute has coincided with Australia's push for an international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic and responses to it. Beijing has denied they are related.
The World Health Organization bowed to calls Monday from most of its member states to launch an independent probe into how it managed the international response to the virus, which was first found in China late last year. The evaluation would stop short of looking into contentious issues such as the origins of the virus.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said China supports the idea of a comprehensive review of the global response to COVID-19 and it should be “based on science and professionalism led by WHO, and...
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