Barley industry lobbies for WTO move over China

Grain Central, May 19, 2020

Planting barley in north-west New South Wales last week. Photo: CHS Broadbent

THE Australian barley industry has called on the Australian Government to use World Trade Organization (WTO) mechanisms to lessen the impact of China’s tariffs which have been placed on Australian barley.

In a joint statement, the Grains Industry Market Access Forum (GIMAF), Australian Grain Exporters Council (AGEC), GrainGrowers, Grain Producers Australia (GPA) and Grain Trade Australia (GTA) said the tariffs will disrupt and most likely halt exports of Australian barley to China.

Announced overnight, they comprise a dumping margin of up to 73.6 per cent, and a subsidy margin of up to 6.9pc for all barley imported from Australia, effective from today.

“These tariffs will disrupt and most likely halt exports of Australian barley imported to China until the situation is resolved,” the statement said.

“We call on the Australian Government to support Australia’s farmers and exporters by engaging deeply with China in a respectful and meaningful way to resolve the issue and to concurrently and immediately pursue the WTO Dispute Settlement process to the fullest extent possible.”

China is Australia’s largest barley export market and Australia is the largest supplier of barley to China.

The organisations have estimated the dispute could cost the Australian grain industry and rural and regional economies at least $A500 million per annum.

The tariff imposition has ended a timeline which started in November 2018, when China initiated an anti-dumping investigation into historic pricing of Australian barley under WTO guidelines.

WTO defines dumping as the selling of exports at a price lower than the exporting country’s domestic market, and/or lower-than-production costs, which results in injury to the importing country’s domestic production.

Australian exporters, industry bodies and government provided extensive submissions to China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) for the investigations.

“These submissions included information regarding every aspect of Australia’s barley industry, covering farm to consumer, data around export and domestic sales programs, company ownership and operational structures.”

Parties to the joint statement have said they fully respect China’s right to conduct these investigations, and have cooperated fully.

“The claim of dumping causing injury to China’s domestic barley industry was unsubstantiated. “

“The notion of dumping is not consistent with the commercial realities of the Australian grain, where export sales are made at values above the purchase price offered to growers, which is in turn above their cost of production.”

“Australian farmers do not receive countervailing subsidies as claimed.

“We are deeply disappointed that China has chosen to apply tariffs against the Australian barley industry.”

The statement said the tariffs will cause ongoing market uncertainty and have a significant impact on the Australian barley industry, including growers and grain exporters.

“Australian barley growers are encouraged to be aware of these issues in coming months as they move through the growing season and start marketing their barley for 2020/21 and potentially beyond.

“We are also concerned the disruption will have an adverse impact on Chinese customers and industries that rely on Australian supply.”

The Australian barley industry’s relationship with China began in the 1960s.

“We very much hope a timely and amicable resolution can be agreed including the removal of duties to enable trade to be re-established, for the benefit of industries in both countries.”

A statement from the Australian Government  on whether it intends to pursue a WTO Dispute Settlement in relation to China’s tariffs on Australian barley is expected this week.

Source: GIMAF, AGEC, GrainGrowers, GPA, GTA



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