WTO asked to settle China barley dispute

17th March 2021 | Eativity editors

The Australian Government will ask the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to establish a dispute-settlement panel in an escalation of the ongoing process to resolve anti-dumping and countervailing duties imposed on Australian barley by China, which Australia claims is a breach of international trading rules.

Australia’s Minister for Trade Dan Tehan says this next step follows dispute-settlement consultations in late January between Australia and China.

“While there was constructive engagement on both sides, these consultations did not resolve our concerns,” he says. “The WTO dispute-settlement system is designed to allow members to settle their differences over trade matters in a respectful manner.

“This decision is an appropriate use of an established system to resolve our differences and is consistent with action Australia has previously taken to address concerns with measures imposed by other trading partners.”

A WTO resolution could take several years, so exporters are now looking to new markets.

The Australian barley industry has been lobbying for the federal government to go to the WTO in an attempt to reinstate unrestricted access to China’s barley market since China imposed 80 percent tariffs on Australian barley in May last year.

The tariffs have halted Australian barley sales to China for the time being. As an example, Australia exported no barley to China in December 2020 and January 2021, compared with shipments which totalled 329,511 tonnes in December 2019 and January 2020.

Tehan says the government is working to defend the interests of our barley producers.

“Australia’s barley trade with China represents a great deal of hard work on both sides over many years,” he says. “The anti-dumping and countervailing duties imposed on Australian barley exports are not consistent with China’s WTO obligations.

“Australia strongly supports the multilateral rules-based trading system, with the WTO at its core. We will continue to work within that system to stand up for the rights of exporters.”