By Kirsty Needham, Dominique Patton and Hallie Gu
SYDNEY / BEIJING (Reuters) – On Friday, Australia said it was closely monitoring exports to China amid “extremely worrying” reports that Chinese buyers were asked not to buy seven. Australian goods, from coal to wine, increase diplomatic tensions.
Australian media reported that Chinese importers were unofficially warned by customs officials that commodities including copper ore, barley, sugar, wood and lobster would face inspection. investigation increased since Friday.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said Chinese officials publicly and privately denied any coordinated efforts being made against Australia, and said he hoped Beijing “did exactly what he said. their”;.
“They deny any discrimination is being taken. But that doesn’t seem to be what the industry is seeing and hearing right now,” he told radio 5AA.
A Chinese source briefed on the matter said that the trade in this commodity has now been halted and that other products such as beef may be affected in the future.
“It was not an absolute order, but a suggestion,” the man said, declining to determine due to the sensitivity of the matter.
China buys nearly a third of Australian exports.
A Beijing-based wine importer and distributor told Reuters that his customs agent in Shanghai was called to a meeting last week and warned that Australian wine would no longer be shipped. Judge handled after November 6.
An employee of the company was also called to a meeting in Beijing on Monday and said Australian wine wouldn’t be processed “until other issues are resolved,” he said.
Other issues were not specified, he added.
Relations between Australia and its biggest trading partner have become strained after Beijing angered Australia’s call for an international investigation into the origin of the coronavirus and police raids. Australia involves investigations of foreign intervention.
When asked to confirm whether China is imposing restrictions on Australian imports, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a news conference Friday that the measures China took currently, which he did not specify, is “legal, reasonable and irreproachable.”
Some Chinese importers have stayed away from Australian products, even without explicit government orders.
Two beef importers told Reuters they recently purchased products from South America.
“You don’t know what will happen and whether the goods will get in when they arrive,” said a manager of a Beijing-based meat importer.
“There is still no clear order for the beef, but you can find out for yourself,” said the manager.
Australian companies stopped sending rock lobsters to China this week after new customs inspections were applied to raw seafood, leading to lobster death before reaching customers. China also stopped importing some shipments of wood and barley from an Australian-based exporter.
“It is clearly unacceptable for fragile precious goods such as seafood that stays at the port for days waiting for clearance,” Birmingham told reporters.
Earlier this year, China launched an anti-dumping investigation on Australian wine and imposed an anti-dumping duty on Australian barley.
“The range and extent of concerns the industry is hearing are very disturbing,” Birmingham said.
“It seems that the constant flow of involvement, administrative troubles or other decisions being made in China, increases the risk for Australian businesses.”
The Australian Department of Agriculture held a meeting on Thursday for 400 farmers and exporters to China, warning of recent trade delays and damages, the agency said in a statement to Reuters. . Ministry officials asked exporters to seek advice from importers in China on the possibility of a disruption.
An editorial in the state-run China Daily on Friday said China’s investigations included only a small portion of imports from Australia, adding that Canberra should “stay away from a stiff relationship. of Washington with China before it is too late. “
“Choosing which side will be a decision that Australia will regret because their economy will only suffer,” said Australia’s US alliance.
Australia joined the United States, India and Japan in the Malabar three-way naval exercise on Thursday, the first time Australia has participated since 2007.
(Reports by Kirsty Needham in Sydney and Dominique Patton, Hallie Gu in Beijing; edited by Richard Pullin, Tony Munroe and Kim Coghill)