Australia suspends WTO case against China on barley tariffs

April 11, 2023  -CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia suspended a complaint to the World Trade Organization in a bid to reopen the Chinese market to Australian barley for the first time in three years in the new government’s latest step toward repairing relations with Beijing.

China effectively closed it doors to Australian barley in May 2020 by imposing an 80% tariff after the previous Australian government angered Beijing by calling for an independent inquiry into the origins of and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The previous conservative government responded by challenging the tariff in the Geneva-based trade body.

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said her center-left Labor Party government, which was elected in May, had reached an agreement with China that “creates a pathway for the resolution of the dispute over Australian barley.”

China had agreed to review its duties on the grain over three or four months, she said, and Australia will temporarily suspend the WTO dispute during that review period.

“Obviously, if the duty is not lifted at the end of the review period, we’ll resume our dispute in the WTO,” Wong said.

The Chinese Embassy in Australia did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Wong said the Chinese review offered a “significantly shorter time frame” to resolve the dispute than the WTO offered.

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