China eases trade beef but abattoirs chase bigger stake

China has lifted suspensions from three Australian abattoirs in a further easing of punitive trade sanctions.

Chinaā€™s customs agency has removed bans on Teys Australia in Naracoorte, South Australia, Australian Lamb Company in Colac, Victoria, and JBS in Melbourne.

But eight Australian red meat processing facilities remain suspended.

The bans were introduced between 2020 and early 2022, with Beijing citing COVID-19 cases in the workforce and labelling issues.

China slapped sanctions worth $20 billion on Australian products during the height of diplomatic tensions, after the Morrison government called for an independent inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic.

Australian Meat Industry Council chief executive Patrick Hutchison welcomed the latest development.

ā€œWe will continue to advocate strongly for all remaining suspended plants to also regain access to China as a matter of priority,ā€ he said.

ā€œWe hope this represents a restabilisation of the trade in meat to China which will also allow for a process and pathway for new access to the market.ā€

Trade Minister Don Farrell also welcomed the decision and called for the other bans to be lifted.

ā€œThis is another positive step towards the stabilisation of our relationship with China,ā€ he said.

ā€œThe Albanese government will keep pressing for the remaining trade impediments to be removed as soon as possible.ā€

Senator Farrell previously said he was confident the remaining sanctions would be gone by Christmas.

South Australiaā€™s Trade Minister Nick Champion described the announcement as positive news for strengthening the relationship with Beijing.

ā€œThis multi-million-dollar industry is an important part of our stateā€™s economy and the easing of these restrictions will provide a welcome trading and jobs boost,ā€ he said.

ā€œProgress at both state and federal levels is steadily stabilising relations with China ā€“ and we will continue to advocate for eased restrictions, including on wine and lobster.ā€

Sanctions remain on rock lobster exports and Beijing is reviewing bans on Australian wine worth $1.2 billion through a five-month process after Canberra agreed to suspend a dispute lodged with the World Trade Organisation.

The development follows a series of meetings between Senator Farrell and his Chinese counterpart Wang Wentao.


Tess Ikonomou
(Australian Associated Press)


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