GOVERNMENT, industry and and exporters are celebrating China’s move to scrap tariffs on Australian barley.

The Australian government announced on Friday that China had decided to remove the 80.5% anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Australian barley from Saturday (5 August).

China imposed the tariff in 2020, effectively blocking Australian barley exports to China and triggering a trade dispute between the two countries.

Australia took the matter to the World Trade Organization in December 2020 but suspended the appeal after China agreed to review the measures.

Australia’s barley exports to China were worth about $916 million in 2018-2019.

Barley exports to China accounted for up to 70% of Australia’s total barley exports, according to the National Farmers’ Federation, and some 23,000 producers had been impacted by the tariffs.

Federal trade minister Don Farrell, agriculture minister Murray Watt and foreign affairs minister Penny Wong welcomed the outcome of the “barley dispute” as a way for barley exporters to re-enter the Chinese market.

“The removal of duties is the result of work by government and industry to resolve this matter,” the ministers said in a joint statement.

“The removal of these duties means that Australia will now discontinue legal proceedings at the WTO.

“We acknowledge and thank industry and affected businesses for their support and patience throughout the WTO process.”

Outcomes for exporters

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry also welcomed the removal of “highly restrictive” barley tariffs.

“Coming at the end of three years of these tariffs, this outcome will no doubt come as a welcome relief to Australian barley producers,” ACCI chief executive officer Andrew McKellar said.

“We are hopeful that this decision will reopen opportunities for Australian exporters to sell barley into this market – a market that was worth around $1.2 billion to Australian exporters prior to the tariffs.”

Mr McKellar said the Australian government’s “patient efforts” had led to the outcome and would provide a pathway for the removal of any remaining trade impediments.

National Farmers’ Federation chief executive Tony Mahar said the announcement was a step in the right direction to resuming full trade with an “important market” for Australian agriculture.

“The Australian farming sector was always of the view there was no justification for these duties and that it was in both countries’ best interest for all trade impediments to be removed,” Mr Mahar said.

“This development is in the long-term interests of Australia and China and highlights the positive effect of meaningful collaboration.”

Trade with WA

Western Australian agriculture and food minister Jackie Jarvis said she looked forward to the reinvigoration of an “important relationship” with China.

China was WA’s largest market for barley exports before the tariff was imposed in 2020; it purchased 53% of the state’s barley production, valued at $409 million.

“WA malting barley has always had a strong reputation and is desired in China for its high-quality characteristics,” Ms Jarvis said.

“I want to congratulate the federal government in its successful efforts working with Chinese authorities to secure the lifting of the barley tariff.

“Our government continues to work closely with Australian government trade delegates and in market activations to secure opportunities for WA agriculture exports.”

Now for the wine dispute

The Australian government is now turning its attention to the “wine dispute” with China, expecting the WTO to follow a similar resolution process to remove the duties on Australian wine.

“We are continuing to pursue our wine dispute at the WTO and remain confident in a positive outcome,” Mr Farrell, Mr Watt and Ms Wong said.

“The Australian government’s approach has been to co-operate with China where we can, disagree where we must and engage in our national interest. The outcome on barley reflects that approach.

“We will continue to press for all trade impediments affecting Australian exports to be removed, which is in the interests of both Australia and China.”