The Federal government has escalated the current trade dispute with China by taking action in the World Trade Organization (WTO) over China’s imposition of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on barley products from Australia.
Trade minister, Simon Birmingham, said the Government had made the decision after extensive consultation with the grains industry and it stood ready to continue to defend the interests of barley producers and other exporters.
Australia has previously used WTO processes
“Whilst Australia respects China’s right, as with any nation, to undertake domestic investigations into anti-dumping matters, we do not agree with China’s decision to impose anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Australian barley,” Birmingham said.
“Australia’s decision to take this step is consistent with our previous use of WTO processes. We have continued to raise our concerns with China on numerous occasions, both bilaterally and through the relevant WTO Committees.”
He added: “We remain disappointed that China has not engaged with Australia to address these concerns and now believe that calling in the independent umpire is the most appropriate course of action to resolve this dispute.”
Settle trade differences in a respectful manner
The minister said the WTO dispute settlement system was designed to allow members to settle their differences over trade matters in a respectful manner, and Australia saw this action as an appropriate use of an established system to resolve the differences between the two countries.
Australia now hopes that formal WTO consultations will enable the situation to be resolved before it proceeds to adjudication before a panel.
“We stand ready to work with China at any stage to resolve this issue in a cooperative manner, as we have previously done with other nations,” Birmingham stated.
Independent and transparent scrutiny of dispute
“WTO dispute resolution processes are not perfect and take longer than would be ideal. However, they give independent and transparent scrutiny to issues, with valuable opportunities for the participation of other nations or third parties.”
Meanwhile, agriculture minister David Littleproud said Australian barley growers deserved to have their case adjudicated by the independent umpire.
“We have previously taken action against Canada with respect to the treatment of our wine and achieved a positive outcome, and we are currently involved in action against India on sugar. I am confident that we will be able to deliver a good outcome for our grains industry,” he noted.