Minister accuses China of undermining deal

Daniel McCulloch
(Australian Associated Press)


Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has accused China of undermining a free trade agreement through a series of sanctions on Australian goods.

Senator Birmingham said the trade strikes and restrictions on Australian exports violated the 2015 deal.

He said the measures also raised questions about China’s adherence to World Trade Organisation rules.

“The targeted nature of Chinese government measures on Australian goods raises concerns about China’s adherence to the letter and spirit of its ChAFTA and WTO obligations,” Senator Birmingham said.

The minister said China was ignoring measures under the free trade agreement requiring regular meetings and reviews.

“After a reasonable start in bilateral engagement, in recent years the Chinese government’s lack of engagement has prevented use of these structures,” he said in a statement to senators.

He said the government raised China’s treatment of Australian barley, wine, meat, lobsters, timber, coal and cotton at a WTO meeting late last month.

“The Australian government is considering all dispute settlement options in order to support our exporters.”

Senator Birmingham said Australia’s door remained open for ministerial dialogue, adding he had requested meetings at regular intervals, most recently last week.

“Australia remains committed to constructive and workable relations with China,” he said.

Senators will be given an opportunity to respond to his statement on Wednesday.


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