Oz suffers barley tariff for dissing China, and now risks wool boycott
CHINA's decision to impose tariffs on Australian barley imports has highlighted how reliant some sectors are on Chinese demand, reports London's Guardian
CHINA's decision to impose tariffs on Australian barley imports has highlighted how reliant some sectors are on Chinese demand, reports London's Guardian.
Add to that Australian producers exported US$3.16 billion in wool to China in 2018-19 and that's bigger than bar, which represents a larger value and industry reliance on China than barley.
Bloomberg reports China is considering targeting more Australian exports including wine and dairy, according to people familiar with the matter, over Australian criticism of China's handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Chinese officials have drawn up a list of potential goods also including seafood, oatmeal and fruit that could be subject to stricter quality checks, anti-dumping probes, tariffs or customs delays, say informed sources.
Australia, which is the world's most-China dependent developed economy, has raised Beijing's ire by calling for an investigation into the origins of the pandemic. President Xi Jinping is sensitive to criticism of its handling of the outbreak and has a track record of using trade as a diplomatic cudgel, with South Korea, Japan and Taiwan all experiencing reprisals in recent years.
After news of an 80 per cent barley tariff, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said 'there is no trade war' with China, denying the tariff was linked to Australia's demand for an inquiry into the origins and handling of Covid-19.
An earlier ban China introduced on the importation of beef from four Australian abattoirs over alleged compliance issues is expected to affect about 35 per cent of the projected $3.5 billion worth of beef exports to China this year.
With the effective halt to the $600 million of annual barley exports to the country, agricultural bodies are paying close attention to the wool industry's roughly 75 per cent export reliance on Chinese demand.
Australia's four largest exports to China - $63 billion in iron ore, $16 billion in natural gas, $14 billion in coal and $12 billion spent by international students studying in Australia - are not expected to be affected in the short term due to their size and the Chinese market's reliance.
According to the Department of Agriculture, Australian producers exported about $3.16 billion in unprocessed or 'greasy' wool to China in 2018-19, which represents an even larger value and industry reliance on China than barley.
Wool exports have already suffered from a drop to a five-year low in sale prices because of a halt in demand outside of China during the Covid-19 pandemic - allowing Chinese buyers greater ability to dictate the prices they pay.
Wool Producers Australia president Ed Storey, is confident a strong relationship with Chinese importers and recent investment in processing capability will stop the industry being targeted by Chinese trade restrictions.
But Rural Bank's chief operating officer, Will Rayner, told the Guardian the wool and barley industries were similar in their vulnerability to Chinese tariffs as China purchased more raw wool than the rest of the world combined.