Australia accuses China of undermining trade agreement

World

Sydney – Australia has accused China of undermining their free trade agreement over a series of actions by Beijing against Australian export goods.

In his strongest comments yet, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said China had “targeted” a dozen Australian goods amid tensions between the countries.

China has imposed sanctions or halts on Australian goods such as grain, wine and beef this year.

This has caused alarm in Australia, as China is its biggest trading partner.

“We continue to raise issues of apparent potential, discriminatory actions targeted against Australia,” said Birmingham, adding Australia was “considering all dispute settlement options”.

China buys more than a third of Australia’s exports, and accounts for 27% of two-way trade.

Beijing has accused Australia of “unfriendly” and “hostile” attitudes towards China, amid a deteriorating political row.

The two nations signed a free trade agreement in 2015, which reduced tariffs and increased access to dozens of goods.

However since May, China has imposed successive sanctions on Australia goods including barley, meat and dairy products, timber, coal and cotton.

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