China drops Australian barley import tariffs as relations warm

Industry News | | MIC Customs Solutions |

China has agreed to end tariffs on imports of Australian barley, which may pave the way for the cancellation of duties on other goods.

China has agreed to end high tariffs on imports of barley from Australia as tensions between the countries ease. 

Duties of 80.5 percent had been imposed on shipments since 2020 and have all but wiped out trade that was previously worth around AU$1.2 billion a year.

In a statement, China's Commerce Ministry said: "In view of the changes in China's barley market, it is no longer necessary to continue to impose anti-dumping duties and countervailing duties on imported barley from Australia."

While Beijing insisted the tariffs were intended to prevent Australian exporters dumping subsidized products into its market, they were brought in at a time when the Australian government was involved in a high-profile diplomatic dispute with China over issues such as human rights and the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

As well as barley, a range of formal and informal restrictions have also been imposed by Beijing on Australian goods including wine, coal, beef and seafood, which Canberra had described as “economic coercion”.

However, relations have improved over the last 12 months since the election of a new government in Australia led by prime minister Anthony Albanese.  

This has also raised hopes among Australian exporters of other goods - in particular the country's wine sector - that other measures may be lifted.

While tariffs of up to 212 percent on wine imports remain in place, there are suggestions that the latest moves could help further talks.

Trade minister Don Farrell said last week: "We intend to use this process as a template for resolving the issue in respect of wine, which is still ongoing."

The country's foreign affairs minister Penny Wong also suggested that pressure from the World Trade Organization (WTO), which was set to make a ruling on the tariffs, may have helped influence China's decision to drop its barley tariffs.

“We would not have been able to get this outcome without working through the WTO, which of course is an important part of the rules-based order, the multilateral order that Australia has such a great interest in,” she said.