Australia has said it is approaching the World Trade Organization (WTO) to form a dispute settlement panel over anti-dumping and countervailing duties imposed on its barley by China.

Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan has announced that the government is taking another step forward in its first WTO claim against Beijing over its barley tariffs after China refused to establish the panel.

Tehan said Australia remains open to further discussions with China to resolve the barley dispute, but that it “will continue to defend the interests of Australian barley producers” at the WTO.

“The establishment of the panel is the next step in the WTO dispute settlement process. The next phase of the process is the appointment of people to the panel to resolve the dispute,” Tehan said.

“The anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Australian barley have effectively stopped Australia’s barley trade with China.”

Beijing has imposed a series of tariffs and trade strikes on Australian products including barley, wine, beef, lobster and timber after a diplomatic row between the two countries.

Australia first announced it was launching a WTO action against China over barley tariffs in December last year.

Recently, China’s National Development and Reform Commission said it would “indefinitely” suspend all activities under the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue, a forum launched in 2014 and last convened in 2017. , reported the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

The Chinese agency said the decision was taken because of Australia’s “Cold War mood and ideological discrimination” which had disrupted cooperation.

Australia recently canceled participation agreements in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, calling it “incompatible with the country’s foreign policy”.

China called Australia’s decision to quash the controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) deal with Beijing as “unreasonable and provocative”, warning that it would “damage” bilateral ties further.

The spat has led to a sharp rise in barley prices around the world as China sucks crops from elsewhere after hitting Australia with high tariffs last year in a diplomatic row.

Chinese importers have now been buying barley from France, Argentina, Canada and the UK since May 2020 to escape the 80.5% tariff on Australian barley.

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