CHINA has suspended the importation of beef from Queensland meat supplier Meramist Pty Ltd, the sixth Australian supplier to face such a move.

The Asian giant has already banned imports from five Australian beef suppliers this year.

Reasons have included issues with labelling and health certificates.

The bans have occurred during a year when China has also imposed tariffs on Australian barley and wine,

The ABC reports on the China – Australia beef spat. Credit: YouTube

According to the ABC, China stopped receiving applications and registration for beef exports from the Meramist plant from 7 December.

Trade lawyer and partner with Rigby Cooke Lawyers, Andrew Hudson, said even though Australia has a free trade agreement with China (ChAFTA), that still reserves the rights of both governments to impose restrictions on trade for several reasons, including for health and food safety.

“The concern with this sixth case, as with the other five, is that the reasons cited may hide a different agenda, part of the wider political dispute between Australia and China,” Mr Hudson said.

“The lack of clarity regarding this new suspension creates even more uncertainty and while Australia is proposing to take action at the WTO against the Chinese imposition of dumping duties on Australian wine exports there is no obvious outcome to quickly resolve other disagreements such as these beef export suspensions other than by way of continued representations by the Australian government, its agencies and the Australian exporters to the Chinese authorities.”

Mr Hudson said the case emphasised the importance for Australian exporters both to secure reliable advice in China as to current and likely future actions against their exports, including how they may best be resolved, and also to review options for other markets for their products.