March 15, 2024


Uncertainty looms over Australian beef exports to China despite wine tariff backdown


The fate of over AUD 500 million (US$331 million) worth of Australian beef exports to China remains uncertain as Beijing shows no signs of lifting restrictions on eight Queensland abattoirs, which industry insiders claim have been overlooked by the Australian government, Financial Review reported.


Australia's Foreign Minister Penny Wong announced that the government would persist in pushing for the removal of all trade impediments after China's Commerce Ministry issued an interim determination to lift punitive tariffs on Australian wine exports.


The decision to lift wine tariffs comes ahead of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's scheduled visit to Canberra next week. Senator Wong confirmed that she would host Mr Wang for the Seventh Australia-China Foreign and Strategic Dialogue, marking the first visit by a Chinese foreign minister to Australia since 2017.


While the government sees the wine tariff rollback as a positive step towards improving bilateral relations, the beef industry remains cautious as restrictions on significant agricultural exports to China persist.


Patrick Hutchison, chief executive of the Australian Meat Industry Council, expressed concerns over the continued restrictions on eight abattoirs, affecting approximately AUD 500 million (US$331 million) in exports, or a quarter of the beef trade to China.


Despite progress made on other commodities, including lobster, bans on timber, barley, and coal have been lifted, but hurdles remain for the beef industry. Hutchison emphasised the need for clarity regarding when the bans on the abattoirs might be lifted.


It is reported that registration for one abattoir has lapsed, leaving seven awaiting approvals from China to resume exports.


While the Albanese government claims success in negotiating an end to tariffs imposed in 2020, progress on lifting restrictions for the beef industry appears overlooked. China imposed wine tariffs in response to anti-dumping allegations, part of broader sanctions against Australian exports.


Although challenges persist, Senator Don Farrell welcomed China's interim recommendation, emphasising dialogue over dispute resolution in trade issues. Senator Wong reiterated the government's commitment to pursuing the removal of all trade impediments.


-      Financial Review

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