China v Australia: Beijing set to ‘wipe out’ Australia’s exports – crippling blow

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Following the outbreak of coronavirus, Australia and China’s relationship has deteriorated. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an independent international inquiry into the origin of the crisis.

Beijing responded by slapping huge tariffs on Australian wheat exports as well as blacklisting three of the country’s largest beef suppliers.

Now tensions between the two nations has reached boiling point after Chinese state media warned “Canberra only has itself to blame”.

This week, suspensions were imposed on seven Australian export products in China in a multi-million-dollar blow.

An editorial in the China Daily accused Mr Morrison of “rash participation in the US administration’s attempts to contain China”.

It read: “Canberra should realise it will get nothing from Washington in return for its collusion in its schemes, while Australia will pay tremendously for its misjudgment.

“With Australia mired in its worst recession in decades, it should stere clear of Washington’s brinkmanship with China before it is too late.

“To put it simply, in Canberra continues to go out of its way to be inimical to China, it’s choosing [of] sides will be a decision Australia will come to regret as its economy will only suffer further pain as China will have no choice but to look elsewhere if the respect necessary for cooperation is not forthcoming.”

The import ban targets Australia’s lobster, sugar, wine, coal, barley, timber and copper ore and concentrate.

It is believed to be a $5-6 billion blow to the value of Australian exports.

Richard McGregor, a senior fellow at Sydney-based think tank the Lowy Institute, tweeted: “China is about to wipe out, with the stroke of a pen, Australia’s biggest export markets for wine, lobster and a few other commodities, against WTO rules and a bi-lateral FTA.

“Seems like it should be a bigger deal, and not just in Australia….”

China is Australia’s largest trading partner, with 30 percent of Canberra’s exports delivered to Beijing.

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Beijing’s editorial added: “The impatience Canberra has demonstrated earlier this week in urging China to accelerate the customs clearance for tons of Australian rock lobsters only betrayed its guilty conscience, since this is merely precaution on China’s part.

“Imported seafood has been confirmed as the source of a number of novel coronavirus outbreaks in the country, which were fortunately quickly contained.”

Australia exports $1.2billion (£658million) dollars of wine to China every year, thus causing a large black hole within the state’s trade.

Tony Battaglene, chief executive of wine industry group Australian Grape and Wine said: “There’s a very consistent message coming out, which is that Friday is D-day, and it’s not just about wine it’s about a whole lot of products.”

Trade with China is vital for Australia and will prove even more so to help the state recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

According to figures, China’s share of Australian exports stood at 48.8 percent.

Mr McGregor told Bloomsberg this week: “China seems determined to punish Australia and make it an example to other countries.

“They want to show there’s a cost for political disagreements.”

Earlier this year, Australia’s Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Joel Fitzgibbon claimed the two are now in an economic war.

He said: “We are in an economic war with China.

“That is a reality.

“The Australia-China relationship has fallen to a point never seen since Tiananmen Square, probably worse than that point.”

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