China says its importers are voluntarily cutting back on Australian goods

China says that reduced imports of Australian products and farm goods were the result of importers own decisions, hitting back at media characterisations.
calendar icon 4 November 2020
clock icon 2 minute read

Reuters reports that Chinese officials made the statement on Tuesday 3 November after media reports stated that Beijing had told importers to stop buying a range of Australian goods amid a deterioration of diplomatic and trade ties.

The Australian Financial Review, citing unnamed sources, said on Monday 2 November that Chinese officials met food and wine importers last week and warned them not to make new orders for Australian wine and farm products.

The South China Morning Post, citing sources, said China was expected to block imports of sugar, red wine, lobster, barley, coal and copper ore and concentrates from Australia.

It said a ban on wheat was likely to follow, although a date had not yet been set. Reuters could not independently confirm the reports.

Asked whether the government had instructed importers to stop buying Australian products, China's Foreign Ministry told Reuters: "Relevant companies reducing imports of relevant products from Australia are acting on their own initiative."

China last week started new customs inspections on Australian lobster, halted imports of timber from northeastern Queensland state, and banned barley shipments from grain exporter Emerald Grain amid a deterioration in ties between the two countries that has already hurt trade in other farm goods.

"Whilst we shouldn't jump to conclusions, we are working closely with the various industries who have been the subject of these reports," Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said in a statement on Tuesday.

"We also continue to make enquiries with Chinese authorities to seek clarity and to encourage them to address areas of concern."

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Source: Reuters

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