By Chinese author Bill Birtles, rural national journalist Kath Sullivan and foreign journalist Stephen Dziedzic.
The Chinese government has strongly raised stakes in its anti-Australian economic campaign, with many Chinese countries receiving oral instructions to suspend the export of Australian wine this week – which had a negative impact on the $ 1 billion market last year.
At least four wine retailers have been advised by local distributors to stop importing Australian wine, Chinese Commerce officials in many cities are organizing “off-record” meetings at which phones were barred from passing a new order.
Australian industry sources that they have been warned by importers that the export of Australian wine will not erase customs after Friday.
A few distributors also that the wine was not the intended destination, and the export of Australian lobster, sugar, coal, timber, wool, barley and copper ore will also be suspended illegally from November 6, with a $ 5- million multi-million rand operation to hit the economy. -Australia.
However, Chinese authorities are rejecting the new directives, and representatives of major ports in Ningbo and Guangzhou told that they had not received any new notice of changes.
Officials at China’s Ministry of Commerce have reportedly denied any new directives to Australia.
The Shanghai-based importer said the reported disruption of wine imports appears to be a response to the recent increase in wine exports from Australia, probably before the introduction of tariffs.
Earlier this year, China announced that it was investigating allegations that Australia had sold wine under production costs and subsidized its farmers, raising fears of a tax evasion.
Last year, wine exports from Australia to China reached $ 1.26 billion – far and wide from the largest market.
During the September quarter, the number of exports to China increased by 23 percent compared to the same period last year, indicating a COVID recovery and possibly pre-termination purchases between speculative sanctions will be introduced.
Meanwhile a wine importer in Hangzhou told he was switching to New Zealand wine orders, but a Shanghai exporter said New Zealand wine shipments were also on the shooting line.
China’s Ministry of Commerce did not respond to an email query and the listed telephone numbers were not answered.
China Customs Representative referred to earlier comments by the Chinese Foreign Ministry regarding timber, lobsters and barley, saying there was nothing new to add.
Exports are already targeted at a variety of restrictions on the Chinese market, including ongoing anti-sponsorship investigations and anti-waste disposal, suspension of new coal orders, large barley prices, ban on imported pesticides, and in recent days lobster catches in Australia in the port of Shanghai.
But Australia’s annual $ 3.7 billion copper exports to China were never targeted, and sugar exports last year cost about $ 100 million.
“We must not come to the conclusion,” said the Minister of Trade
Chinese Trade Minister Zhong Shan has repeatedly denied Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham’s request to speak directly to various China-Australia disputes.
Senator Birmingham has requested a call with Mr Zhong since May, when China began directing the export of barley and beef.
In a statement, the Minister of Trade said that “many reports of problems facing the export of Australia to China into China are worrying”.
“While we should not come to a conclusion, we are working closely with the various industries that have been the subject of these reports,” he said.
“We continue to consult with Chinese authorities for clarification and encourage them to deal with areas of concern.”
Senator Birmingham also said in the spirit of earlier Chinese statements that Australia was unintentional, it should address current grievances.
The latest steps come just days before China opens its annual export exhibition in Shanghai, where representatives of the Chinese government will once again say China is “opening the front door” for free trade.
Chinese officials and state media reject any political intentions in various forms of trade but have previously linked economic relations with the need for more “mutual respect”.
“The government should be more balanced in the way it talks about China,” said Madeleine King, a spokeswoman for Labor.
He also raised the issue of “listening to corporate leaders who are deeply concerned about relationships, and who have a legitimate place in this important national dialogue”.
“This would provide the government with practical advice while showing everyone that we value our trade relations with China,” said King.
Exports to Australia are caught in the crossfire
There was speculation by the end of Tuesday that the Australian-China wheat trade could be hampered by new trade sanctions.
While some industry sources they do not believe trade could be affected, others are expected to hear more from Chinese authorities on Wednesday.
Chinese authorities had warned of an increase in testing for wheat exports.
In a typical year, the Australian and Chinese wheat trade costs about $ 400 million and represents about eight percent of the export market.
The understands that Australian wheat exporters are currently sending most of the wheat booked to China in the coming weeks.