May 12, 2020 08:10 PM

China Suspends Imports From Four Australian Slaughterhouses

What’s new: China suspended meat imports from four Australian abattoirs Tuesday, citing the need to protect the health and safety of Chinese consumers, as relations between the two nations hit a low point.

At a regular press briefing, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied the import freeze was linked to recent frictions between Australia and China related to the global coronavirus pandemic. He said the companies in question had violated inspection and quarantine requirements.

Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham told reporters in Canberra the suspensions related to “minor technical errors” in paperwork that were in some cases more than a year old, and that the Australian government was working with the companies to find a solution.

The context: The plants make up 35% of Australian beef exports to China, according to the ABC. Australia sold 29% of its total beef exports to the country last year, some 300 kilotons, making China its biggest beef export market by volume.

Australia is also facing the threat of major tariffs on barley exports to China, which were worth around $600 million last year, as an 18-month Chinese anti-dumping investigation draws to a close.

The Australian Financial Review linked a mooted 73.6% Chinese duty on barley to the Australian government’s use of anti-dumping measures against Chinese steel and aluminum makers.

Australia has levied tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum makers of between 15.8% and 101.9%.

China’s foreign ministry denied its investigation of Australian barley-makers was politically motivated, saying at a regular briefing on Monday that it was a “normal trade remedy investigation.”

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use.

Related: U.S. Infectious Disease Director Rejects Use of ‘Chinese Virus’ for Covid-19

Contact reporter Flynn Murphy (

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