Chinese tariff a blow to Australian barley growers

By Country News

Australian barley growers have warned of a blow to the nation's economy after China placed an 80 per cent tariff on imports.

China has imposed harsh taxes on Australian barley, with separate tariffs of 73.6 per cent for dumping allegations and 6.9 per cent over supposed government subsidies.

Both claims have been emphatically denied by the Federal Government and Australian farmers.

Diplomatic tensions between Canberra and Beijing have soared after Australia pushed for an inquiry into the origins of coronavirus.

More than 110 nations, including China, backed the inquiry at the World Health Assembly on May 18.

NFF chief executive Tony Mahar said China's claims were completely false.

“It is particularly devastating after the time that Australian farmers have had in the last number of years with droughts, floods and fires,” Mr Mahar said.

Australia is the biggest barley supplier to China, providing more than half of its exports worth up to $2 billion a year.

Producers will be on the hunt for new export markets, with India and Indonesia — the latter having recently signed a trade deal with Australia — considered prime options.

A NSW Farmers statement said the body was disappointed by the punitive tariffs.

“This disruption causes ongoing market uncertainty when growers are in the middle of planting, and will place significant downward pressure on barley prices offered to Australian growers,” the group said.

NSW Farmers asked the Federal Government to immediately pursue the World Trade Organisation Dispute Settlement process.

The global trade umpire could take up to three years to deliver a decision if Australia decides to pursue an appeal.

China's Ministry of Commerce announced the tariffs on May 18, after an 18-month investigation.

“The investigating authority has ruled that there was dumping of imported barley from Australia and the domestic industry suffered substantial damage,” the ministry said in a statement.

The tariffs come a week after China banned meat imports from four Australian abattoirs.

Beijing's ambassador in Canberra has also raised the prospect of consumer boycotts over the coronavirus inquiry.