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Australia Wont Play Chinas Tit for Tat Trade Games

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Australias federal trade minister said the government will not engage in an economic war despite the Chinese Communist Partys (CCP) “wolf warrior” diplomatic tactics towards Australia.

Trade minister Senator Simon Birmingham said in an interview on May 19 that Australias trade policy is based on the international rules on trade.

Birmingham said that the government would not be putting tariffs on Chinese goods because: “We dont conduct our trade policy on a tit for tat basis.”

Always nice to speak with @METI_JPN Minister @kajiyamahiroshi. Our shared commitment to open, rules based trade, regional cooperation (including signing RCEP this year) & facilitating responsible growth in areas like e-commerce is resolute, notwithstanding #COVID19. 🇦🇺🇯🇵 pic.twitter.com/2NXCN0vO12

— Simon Birmingham (@Birmo) May 18, 2020

Birmingham praised Australias trade relationship with Japan in a post on Twitter, however, the bilateral trade relationship with China is currently strained by the CCPs trade sanctions on Australian barley and its ban on beef imports.

The timing of the sanctions has raised questions about whether China was retaliating after the Australian government continued to push for an independent inquiry into the origins of the CCP virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.

The Morrison government has denied that theres a link between the two events but did say that he would be disappointed if this was the case.

Speaking to 6PR Mornings on May 19, Birmingham noted that Chinese authorities had said there were no ties between the virus inquiry and Chinas barley tariffs which had been ongoing long before the virus outbreak.

“China is emphatic that they have run this as a technical trade remedy action. Theyve put it through their anti-dumping process. It was commenced 18 months ago and today was always the deadline for a determination to be made. So theyve stretched out the full-time frame, and it is in that sense, at least, coincidental,” remarked Birmingham.

#NEWS A statement by NFF CEO @tonymahar on the Peoples Republic of Chinas tariffs on Australian barley 👉https://t.co/Em7XAE8UPd pic.twitter.com/BHCDsUQ87w

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— National Farmers Federation (@NationalFarmers) May 19, 2020

National Farmers Federation (NFF) President Fiona Simson said in a media statement on May 12 that the NFF was concerned about agricultural trade between Australia and China.

“Two-thirds of Australias farm production is exported. Almost one-third of this, 28 per cent, is exported to China, including 18% of our total beef production and 49% of our barley,” Simson said.

However, Simson said the NFF had every confidence in the government to address the issues at hand.

“We recognise in relationships as significant as that between Australia and China, from time to time, issues do arise.

“When they do it is important that both parties work together in a respectful manner to, as soon as possible, resolve the challenge, to an end that is satisfactory to both,” Simson continued.

Chinese authorities, however, are making negotiations difficult for the federal government.

Birmingham explained to Fran Kelly on ABC Breakfast Radio on May 19 that the Chinese commerce minister had not spoken to him ahead of these decisions—a fact Birmingham said was “deeply disappointing.”

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