CANBERRA, AAP – Australian officials have lashed out against China’s harsh trade policies against the nation, warning the economic punishment measures risked undermining global confidence in Beijing.
In a strongly worded statement to the World Trade Organisation, Australia’s ambassador George Mina said China was increasingly testing global trade rules.
It comes after China slapped export bans on a range of Australian products such as barley, coal, lobster, wine and cotton, as part of an ongoing economic dispute.
“The implications of China’s actions go beyond their impact on Australian exporters, they rise the risk and uncertainty of the China market for the global business community,” Mr Mina said in the statement.
“By undermining agreed trade rules, China also undermines the multilateral trading system on which all WTO members apply.
“China says these actions reflect legitimate concerns; but there is a growing body of information that demonstrates China’s actions are motivated by political considerations.”
The comments to the WTO were made as part of a regular review of China’s policies, 20 years after the country’s accession into the organisation.
Mr Mina said the past 18 months had seen China implement “disruptive” trade measures against Australia.
He urged the WTO to align its own trade policies in line accepted international rules.
“As part of the large scale trade measures taken against Australia, there are credible reports that Chinese authorities have instructed importers not to purchase certain Australian products, contrary to WTO rules,” the statement said.
“Several official Chinese statements have directly linked these trade actions to wider issues in our bilateral relationship.
“WTO rules do not permit a member – however large – to impost conditions such as these on trade with another member.”
The statement to the WTO also quoted an official from China’s foreign ministry who said China would not allow any country “to reap the benefits from doing business with China while groundlessly accusing and smearing China”.
Relations between the two nations have soured in recent years, with Australian ministers being unable to communicate with their Chinese counterparts.