Australia will drag China to the World Trade Organization over Beijing’s imposition of crippling tariffs on Australian wine exports, she said on Saturday, in the latest sign of escalating tensions between the two countries.
The move to “stand up for Australian winegrowers” comes six months after Australia lodged a separate WTO protest against Australian barley tariffs and is in line with “government support for the trade-based trading system. rules, “he said in a statement.
He added, however, that “Australia remains open to engage directly with China to resolve this issue.”
This is the latest incident in an escalation between Australia and its largest trading partner and follows warnings from Prime Minister Scott Morrison that his government is reacting forcefully to countries trying to use “economic coercion” against it.
In November, China imposed tariffs of up to 218% on Australian wines, which it said were “dumped” into the Chinese market at subsidized prices.
The crackdown virtually shut down what had been Australia’s largest overseas wine market, with sales falling from A $ 1.1 billion (US $ 840 million) to just A $ 20 million, according to the reports. official figures.
“The measures taken by the Chinese government have caused serious damage to the Australian wine industry,” Commerce Minister Dan Tehan said at a press conference announcing the decision to file a formal dispute with the WTO.
“We would like to be able to sit down and be able to resolve these differences” directly with the Chinese, he said, but added that the official lower level contacts had not made progress.
“We will use all other mechanisms to try to resolve this dispute and other disputes that we have with the Chinese government,” he said.
Tehan acknowledged that the dispute settlement process in the WTO was difficult and estimated that it would take two to four years for any resolution.
– “Coercive behavior” –
Beijing has imposed tough economic sanctions on a range of Australian products in recent months, ranging from high tariffs to disruptive practices in several agricultural sectors, coal, wine and tourism.
The measures are widely seen in Australia as punishment for pushing back Beijing’s operations to impose influence in Australia, rejecting Chinese investments in sensitive areas and publicly calling for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
Saturday’s move came just a week after a summit by the G7 advanced economies group echoed Australia’s call for a stronger stance against China’s trade practices and its more assertive stance on worldwide.
The G7 summit ended on June 12 with the announcement of US-led plans to counter China’s billion-dollar “Belt and Road Initiative”, a hallmark of its efforts. efforts to expand its economic influence around the world.
The consortium has pledged hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure investments for low- and middle-income countries as part of a “Rebuilding a Better World” (B3W) project.
The B3W was seen as aimed squarely at competing with the efforts of China, which was widely criticized for imposing unmanageable debt on small countries.
Morrison attended the summit as part of a G7 plus formula that also brought together leaders from South Korea, South Africa and India, and made it clear that he would push other nations to act together against China’s aggressive trade policies.
“The most practical way to fight economic coercion is to reestablish the binding dispute settlement system of the world trade body,” he said in a speech just before the summit.
“Where there are no consequences for coercive behavior, there is little incentive for restraint,” he said.
Morrison received explicit support in his government’s confrontation with China from the United States as well as from French President Emmanuel Macron during a visit to Paris after the G7 meeting. -France Media Agency