Australia reaches agreement with China to resolve barley dispute

Australia has reached an agreement with China on a pathway to resolve a dispute over Australian barley imports, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Tuesday.

Australia will temporarily suspend its dispute at the World Trade Organization while China conducts a three- to four-month-long review of duties imposed on Australian barley, Wong told reporters in Adelaide, southern Australia.

"Obviously, if the duty is not lifted at the end of the review period we will resume our dispute in the WTO," she said.

The announcement follows increased dialogue between the two countries in recent months.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's government has sought to stabilize bilateral relations after a yearslong diplomatic freeze, triggered by his predecessor Scott Morrison's assertion that there should be an independent investigation into the source of the coronavirus outbreak, first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

In 2020, the former coalition government lodged a formal complaint with the WTO over anti-dumping and countervailing duties imposed on Australian barley. A second complaint was lodged in 2021, over similar duties imposed on Australian wine.

"If this agreement is successful in providing a pathway for the lifting of duties on barley, the Australian government expects a similar process to be followed in relation to the trade barriers that exist on Australian wine," Wong said.

Canberra remains confident of a successful outcome for Australian wine at the WTO, she said.

© Kyodo News