Australia expects ‘technical’ issues blighting trade with China to be resolved

Australian flag waves in front of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: Australian flag flutters in front of the Great Hall of the People during a welcoming ceremony for Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (not in picture) in Beijing, China, April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee

November 13, 2020

BEIJING (Reuters) – Australia expects that “technical” issues disrupting trade with China will be resolved as soon as possible, deputy foreign affairs and trade secretary Christopher Langman said on Friday.

Ties with China, Australia’s biggest trading partner, became frayed after Canberra called for an international inquiry into the source of the novel coronavirus, which erupted in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

“We’ve some real concerns about the growing pandemic issues that affect a range of Australian exports to China,” Langman said at the Caixin Summit in Beijing by video.

“China has told us and said publicly that the current issues are technical matters. If that’s the case, we expect that they will be resolved as quickly as possible so that any disrupted trade can be resumed.”

Beijing has suspended some beef imports over issues with labelling and health certificates, and effectively blocked a $439 million trade in barley by slapping tariffs of 80.5% on imports from Australia.

China has also launched an anti-dumping probe into Australian wine imports, and halted the import of all timber from Victoria and Queensland states after customs officials said they had discovered pests.

(Reporting by Yan Zhang and Ryan Woo; Writing by Se Young Lee; Editing by Jacqueline Wong & Simon Cameron-Moore)