Farmers statement on China’s tariffs on Australian barley

The National Farmers’ Federation is frustrated and deeply concerned with China’s decision to impose punitive tariffs on Australian barley effective immediately.

The announcement comes following an anti-dumping and countervailing subsidy investigation established by the People’s Republic of China initiated in November 2018.

From today, Australian barley will face a dumping margin of up to 73.6% and a subsidy margin of up to 6.9% when entering China.

NFF CEO Tony Mahar said the new duties would make exporting barley to China very difficult, to say the least.

“This is a massive blow to Australian grain growers, who are right now nearing the end of their winter planting.

“China is Australia’s largest barley market, almost 50% of our barely worth about $917 million is exported to China each year.

“The new tariffs will significantly curtail and, most likely stop, exports of Australian barley to China by artificially increasing the price, until the situation can be can resolved.”

Mr Mahar said claims Australian growers were subsidised and that Australia had engaged in dumping were completely unsubstantiated and had been shown to be in detailed submissions to China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) by Australia’s grain industry.

“Australian grain growers are amongst the least subsidised in the world. They operate in a free and competitive global market. The idea that Australian barley has been ‘dumped’ in China doesn’t match the realities of Australian grain production.

“Export sales are made at prices above the purchase value offered to farmers, which in turn surpasses their cost of production.

“This issue has been under consideration for 18 months. Australia respected China’s decision to launch the investigation and engaged in good faith with MOFCOM on the process.

“Organisations across the entire spectrum of Australia’s supply chain made submissions that included detailed data around export and domestic sales programs, company ownership and operational structures.

“It’s very disappointing that despite the details in the comprehensive submissions provided by Australia, China has decided to impose these punitive duties.”

Mr Mahar said Australia must now dispute the issue at the World Trade Organisation to the ‘fullest extent possible’, a course of action that would unfortunately take many years before an outcome could be reached.

“In the interim it is absolutely crucial that the Australian Government continues to seek to address this issue through diplomatic channels with their Chinese counterparts.

“More than two thirds of Australia’s agricultural production is exported, and up to 30% of that goes to China.

“Our relationship with China has gone from strength to strength since the coming into force of ChAFTA in 2015. China is an important market for Australian wool, red meat, cotton, dairy, wine, horticulture and seafood. Australia’s barley trade relationship with China goes back to the 1960s.

“It is the NFF’s strong hope that a resolution that is satisfactory to both parties can be reached sooner rather than later, to avoid unnecessary detriment to Australian farmers and Chinese consumers – who value our barley,” Mr Mahar said.

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