Trade Minister Simon Birmingham
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham. Source: ABC
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  • The Federal Government is again calling for answers amid concerns China will block key exports from entering the country from today
  • Chinese importers have been told lobsters, wine, sugar, coal, barley, timber and copper ore may be turned back after arriving at its city’s airports and ports
  • Such action is expected to cost Australia around $5 billion to $6 billion annually
  • The reason behind a ban is not 100 per cent clear, but assumed to be related to conflict over COVID-19, Hong Kong and foreign interference
  • China has rejected the ban reports and Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he’ll take the assurance at face value

It’s D-Day for Australian exporters, whose products may be barred from leaving Chinese airports and ports from today as part of an escalating trade dispute.

The Federal Government is urgently trying to determine if key exports are being blocked by Beijing after reports Chinese importers were warned of action earlier this week.

Among the products which could be stopped from entering the country are rock lobsters, which were confirmed to have been wasted after sitting spoiled in customs docks awaiting clearance.

Along with lobsters, wine, sugar, coal, barley, timber and copper ore are also on the list of products which are being flagged for various reasons by China’s customs department.

Ongoing disruption to any of these export supply chains could cost Australia around $5 billion to $6 billion annually.

China has denied claims of an outright ban on these Aussie products, but has in the last year placed various sanctions on Australian barley, beef, wine and other products.

But, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said for now the Government will take have to China’s reassurance at face value as nothing official has been recieved about a ban.

“I can only can take that at face value, out of the respect of the comprehensive strategic partnership we have with China,” he said.

Meanwhile Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the conflicting reports between officials and Chinese importers were unsettling and he was again seeking concrete answers.

“The ongoing reports that we’re getting from industry and a range of different news sources are deeply troubling, and there’s no denying or getting away from that fact,” he said.

“There’s a lot of inconsistency in what we see and hear as well — Chinese official government statements denying any coordinated effort being taken against Australia, they deny any discriminatory actions that are being taken,” The Minister added.

“But that doesn’t seem to be what industry is seeing and hearing at present,” he concluded.

This latest trade dispute comes as tensions continue to rise between Australia and China over a number of different issues, including Beijing’s interference in Hong Kong, an investigationg into the origins of COVID-19 and multiple claims of foreign intereference.


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