Australia vows to ‘vigorously defend’ itself against China WTO complaint
Beijing has launched a formal challenge against Australian tariffs on several Chinese products in the latest escalation of the dispute between the two countries.
The Chinese government’s decision to take action through the World Trade Organization follows Australia’s own twin challenges against Beijing’s imposition of tariffs on Australian barley and wine.
The Chinese commerce ministry announced late on Thursday that it would use WTO procedures to challenge Australia’s measures targeting railway wheels, wind towers, and stainless steel sink products from China.
The Australian trade minister, Dan Tehan, said the government would “robustly defend the measures that we have put in place”.
Tehan questioned the timing of the move, saying Australia had introduced the measures on wind towers and stainless steel sinks in 2014 and 2015. The measure relating to railway wheels was more recent in 2019.
The minister attempted to strike a conciliatory note, saying Australian officials were ready to enter into discussions with their Chinese counterparts about the issue – but he hoped China would agree to discussions at the ministerial level, too.
China has blocked ministerial-level talks for at least the past year, amid a souring of the relationship.
“What we want to do is see very constructive engagement with China,” Tehan said. “We want to sit down and work through these disputes. We continue to do that at the official level and we would be most happy to do it at the ministerial level.”
Comment has been sought from the Chinese embassy in Canberra.