Asia Minute: Australia Facing Chinese Trade Tensions

Nov 4, 2020

The U.S. elections have drawn attention from around the world this week, but other stories are developing elsewhere — including in China. The government there has been increasing pressure on one of its biggest trading partners — a neighbor in the Asia Pacific.

Chilly relations between Australia and China are hitting Australian exports to its single most important market.  Australian government figures show more than 30% of the country’s exports go to China.

That’s more than its exports to Japan, South Korea, the United States and India combined.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports Australian shipments from coal and sugar to timber and copper ore heading for China will be suspended starting on Friday.

Bloomberg quotes “people familiar with the situation” as saying Chinese imports of “at least seven commodities” from Australia will stop at the end of this week.

In April, the government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, and Chinese retaliation has come in varying degrees ever since.

Another reported target: Australian wine — a product Chinese consumers spent nearly a billion U.S. dollars on last year. The ABC reports that starting Friday, shipments of Australian wine will not clear Chinese customs.

The Chinese government has not confirmed those actions.

Australia’s Trade Minister has been trying to talk directly to China’s Commerce Minister since May.

On Tuesday, the Trade Minister released a statement saying the “numerous reports of difficulties that different Australian exports are facing on entry into China are of concern.”