Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC):
Red-meat processors have beef sales to China suspended as trade barriers escalate
The Kilcoy Pastoral Company-owned abattoir in the Queensland town of Kilcoy is one of four processors targeted in China trade row
(ABC News: Giulio Saggin, File Photo)
China has imposed an import ban on four Australian abattoirs in an apparent escalation of Beijing's trade war tactics.
The blacklisting of the red meat abattoirs — three in Queensland and one in NSW — comes just days after China flagged plans to introduce an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley, bringing the trade to its knees.
There are fears the barriers introduced by Australia's largest trading partner are in retaliation to Prime Minister Scott Morrison's demand for an independent investigation into the COVID-19 outbreak.
Three Queensland meatworks — Kilcoy Pastoral Company, the JBS owned Beef City, near Toowoomba; Dinmore, near Brisbane, and the New South Wales' Northern Cooperative Meat Company at Casino — have been suspended by China.
One analyst has told the ABC the four meatworks represent 35 per cent of beef exports to China, a trade that had been on track to reach $3.5 billion this year.
Minister: Suspensions based on technical issue
According to Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, the Government was notified yesterday about the suspensions, which Chinese authorities linked to labelling and health certificate requirements.
He said he was concerned the suspensions were due to "highly technical issues", some of which dated back more than a year, arguing changes to export arrangements should be considered separately to the merits of an investigation into COVID-19.
"We certainly don't see any relationship, and we would expect that no other counterpart country should see a relationship between those factors either."
An earlier statement from Senator Birmingham said Government was working with the beef industry to find a way forward.
"We will work with industry and authorities in both Australia and China to seek to find a solution that allows these businesses to resume their normal operations as soon as possible," it said.
"While not desirable, we have dealt with issues of this nature before and are working closely with the Commonwealth," it said.The Australian Meat Industry Council said China had strict requirements which the Australian industry took "exceptionally seriously".
"This is a trade and market access issue that is being led by the Commonwealth."
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