China steps up trade war with Australia by banning the country’s largest barley exporter

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The trade war between China and Australia escalated after the communist nation imposed a ban on our largest grain exporter after disputed pest claims were discovered in multiple shipments.

The move comes a day after the Australian government confirmed that TV presenter Cheng Lei was arrested in China on August 14 and has been in detention since.

West Australian grain handler CBH has vowed to fight the “hugely disappointing” decision, which appears to be the latest trade strike fueled by diplomatic tensions.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the federal government wanted to get to the bottom of the situation.

“We respect the fact that China – like any other country would, as we would – have quarantine inspection arrangements in place,” he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

China has stepped up its trade war with Australia by banning a major grain exporter from sending barley to the country after disputed pest claims were discovered in multiple shipments

China's customs service confirmed the ruling on Tuesday, saying quarantine pests have been repeatedly found in CBH barley exports.  Pictured: Chinese President Xi Jinping

China’s customs service confirmed the ruling on Tuesday, saying quarantine pests have been repeatedly found in CBH barley exports. Pictured: Chinese President Xi Jinping

“We will work with the company once we are aware of all the facts to make the appropriate representations. “

The Chinese customs service confirmed the ruling on Tuesday, saying quarantine pests have been repeatedly found in CBH barley exports.

But the grain cooperative insists there is no evidence to support this claim.

“CBH is therefore extremely disappointed that the suspension has been put in place and will continue to work with the Australian government to challenge the suspension,” said the exporter.

Australian export markets in 2019

1.China: $ 135 billion (33% of total Australian exports)

2. Japan: $ 36 billion (9%)

3. South Korea: $ 21 billion (5%)

4. United Kingdom: $ 16 billion (3.8%)

5. United States: $ 15 billion (3.7%)

Source: Worldstopexports.com

Australian farmers were already effectively barred from exporting barley to China, which imposed tariffs of 80.5 percent on the product in June.

Senator Cormann said CBH had an excellent track record, but declined to speculate whether diplomatic issues triggered the ban.

“The truth is that Australian grain products, Australian barley products, are very popular around the world,” he said.

“If there are fewer opportunities to export high quality Australian grain to China, there will be more opportunity to export grain to other markets around the world.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a constitutional power game last week, signaling that the Commonwealth would gain a veto over state government agreements with foreign nations.

The strengthened powers would allow the Foreign Minister to reduce the Victoria Belt and Road Initiative Agreement with Beijing.

China’s Deputy Ambassador Wang Xining has revealed the depth of anger at Australia following its pressure for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.

Cereals traders said that while the CBH suspension will have limited impact, it signals a further deterioration in Australia-China relations.

China’s move will only increase tensions between the two countries after Ms Lei, a leading television presenter on Chinese government’s English-speaking network CGTN, was arrested on August 14.

His family is looking for a lawyer as Australian consular staff are offering help.

Geoff Raby, a former ambassador to China who runs a consulting firm in Beijing, is a close friend of Cheng’s.

“Everyone in his circle is amazed that this has happened,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.

“Cheng Lei is a very skilled operator. She knows where the limits of public comment are in this kind of system. She understands how it works, she is pragmatic and brash.

“It is very difficult to see where the sensitivity lies and where it has possibly crossed the red lines around political sensitivities in China.

Mr Raby said Cheng did a mildly sardonic recent article about the coronavirus, but that was hardly enough to harass authorities in Beijing.

Cheng Lei, a prominent television presenter on the Chinese government's English-language network CGTN, has been in detention since August 14.

Cheng Lei, a prominent television presenter on the Chinese government’s English-language network CGTN, has been in detention since August 14.

Cheng reportedly wrote a mildly sardonic recent article on the coronavirus, but it was hardly enough to harass Beijing authorities

Cheng reportedly wrote a mildly sardonic recent article on the coronavirus, but it was hardly enough to harass Beijing authorities

He described her as an objective and balanced journalist who would argue from the corner of China in private conversations.

China is Australia’s largest trading partner, but relations have been severely strained by disputes over COVID-19, land claims in the South China Sea and Beijing’s security crackdown in Hong Kong.

China recently imposed tariffs on Australian barley, suspended some beef imports and warned students and tourists that it was not safe to travel to Australia due to allegations of racism.

The country has launched anti-dumping investigations into Australian wine and suspended beef imports from five slaughterhouses in Queensland.

In May, China announced an 80.5 percent tax on barley exports. The tax will remain in effect for five years.

The tariff is expected to cripple Australian grain farmers hit by drought.

Australian farmers were already effectively barred from exporting barley to China, which imposed tariffs of 80.5% on the product in June.

Australian farmers were already effectively barred from exporting barley to China, which imposed tariffs of 80.5% on the product in June.

Australia is China’s largest supplier of barley, exporting around A $ 1.5-2 billion annually, more than half of its exports.

Last month, China launched an anti-dumping investigation into Australian wine.

The investigation will examine whether Australian wine growers dumped cheap bottles of wine in China over a five-year period, drowning local producers.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham called the confirmation of the inquiry a “very disappointing and confusing development”.

“Australian wine is not sold below market prices and exports are not subsidized,” Senator Birmingham said.

“Australia will fully engage in the Chinese process to firmly state that there is no reason to confirm the claims made. “

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud also categorically rejected the dumping allegations.

Shares of Treasury Wine Estates fell more than 13 percent as news of the investigation emerged, and have since been halted on the Australian Stock Exchange.

TWE, which imports high-end brands such as Penfolds from China, said it would cooperate with the investigation.

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