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China imposes 80 percent tariffs on Australian barley imports

China imposes 80 percent tariffs on Australian barley imports
© LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images

China imposed 80 percent tariffs on Australian barley imports, the country announced Monday, as relations between the two nations continue to sour.

The Chinese ministry of commerce announced 73.6 percent anti-dumping and 6.9 percent anti-subsidy tariffs would be put in place on all companies, including four named exporters The Uluka Trust, Kalgan Nominees Pty. Ltd, JW&JI Mcdonald & Sons and Haycroft Enterprises. 

The tariffs, set to begin on Tuesday and continue for five years, are expected to effectively stop billions of dollars of trade between the nations, Reuters reported. Chinese officials implemented the tariffs after concluding an investigation, beginning in 2018, that officials said found dumping by Australia that caused damage on its domestic industry.

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“We reject the basis of this decision and will be assessing the details of the findings while we consider the next steps,” Australia’s Minister for Trade Simon Birmingham said in a statement obtained by Reuters.

Australia is the biggest barley supplier to China, which pays about $980 million to $1.3 billion for barley per year, more than half of Australia’s exports. China expects to get its barley from other producers such as France, Canada, Argentina and other countries.

“There aren’t many alternative markets. It could be sold to Saudi Arabia, but it will be heavily discounted to what Australian farmers could have received by selling to China,” an Australian government source told Reuters.

China has suspended imports from four of Australia’s meat processors that contribute to about 20 percent of the country’s beef exports, but the new tariffs will have a much larger impact.

Australia recently requested an independent inquiry into the origins of coronavirus and banned Chinese technology company Huawei from its 5G broadband network in 2018.