Australian mining companies are continuing to experience setbacks in exporting minerals to China, prompting the Federal Government to take action.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne is pressuring the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to respect international trade and stop delaying coal, copper and other commodities from reaching buyers in Mainland China.
Economic coercion ‘concerns’
Payne believes it is plausible CCP representatives could have ordered Chinese customers to stop importing Australian coal and other minerals as a means of economic coercion.
“We do have concerns of these issues,” she said according to the Australian Associated Press.
Sour relationship blamed
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs refused to admit the CCP has imposed a ban on Australian coal and copper, even though it previously prohibited meat imports from four Australian abattoirs and imposed a new 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley.
The ministry then accused Australia of failing to meet its commitment to maintain friendly diplomatic relations.
“We hope Australia can do more things conducive to mutual trust, bilateral cooperation and the spirit of China-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership, and bring the bilateral relations back to the right track as early as possible,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in a public statement.
“We believe a sound and stable China-Australia relationship serves the fundamental interests of both peoples.”
Follow the rules
However, Payne rejected Wang’s allegations and believes his explanation is simply not good enough.
“There has been a consistent denial of any targeting of Australian products and a commitment spoken of in relation to observation of trade rules,” she said.
“We would encourage Chinese authorities to act in accord with those rules … [and] we expect our trade with China to be undertaken consistent with World Trade Organisation obligations.”
The minister will not stop pressing the CCP until it explains its actions.
“We are continuing to seek clarity from the Chinese authorities both here in Australia and in China,” she said.
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It is unclear whether any previous Australian coal orders will be permitted through China Customs as a number of cargoes are experiencing either delays or defaults. Only some ships were permitted to unload cargo at certain Chinese ports at the time of publication.
QMEB understands souring Australia-China relations could mean future coal orders will be sourced from Russia and Indonesia instead.