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Australia Concerned by Reports of China Barley Tariffs

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Australia Concerned by Reports of China Barley Tariffs

A front end loader tips barley into a grain feeder at a depot near Lara, Victoria, Australia.

A front end loader tips barley into a grain feeder at a depot near Lara, Victoria, Australia.

Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg
A front end loader tips barley into a grain feeder at a depot near Lara, Victoria, Australia.
Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg

Australia is “deeply concerned” by reports that duties may be levied on its barley exports into China, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said.

“Our barley producers operate in a competitive global market without any trade-distorting subsidies and price their products in an entirely commercial way,” Birmingham said in a statement on Sunday, calling any imposition of duties “unjustified.”

Australia’s barley exports to China were worth A$1.4 billion ($915 million) in 2017, according to the government. The two nations entered a free-trade agreement in December 2015.

Australia has stoked tensions with China in recent weeks by calling for an independent probe into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, worrying businesses in the most China-dependent developed economy. Beijing has pushed back, labeling calls for the probe “politically motivated” and warning of a potential consumer boycott of Australian products.

Read more: EU Backs Independent Probe Into Origins of Coronavirus

The Australian government has worked with its grains industry “to mount the strongest possible case against China’s anti-dumping investigation,” Birmingham said.

“We will use the remaining time before China finalizes its decision to continue our efforts to resolve this matter satisfactorily and will seek to uphold the integrity of our world-leading barley producers,” he said.

Asked by a reporter in Canberra on Sunday whether he thought the reports could be a seen as China using reprisals over diplomatic tensions, Birmingham said the investigation had been running for 18 months and was always due to conclude this month.

(Updates with Birmingham comment in final paragraph.)