United States Pledges to Work with Australia to Oppose China’s “Unfair” Trade Practices | australian politics
The Biden administration has pledged to work with Australia to tackle China’s “unfair” trade practices, as the Morrison government seeks international support to fight Beijing’s tariffs on Australian wine.
With the United States stating that it supports Australia, Guardian Australia has learned that the European Union is also set to join as a third party if the dispute between Australia and China proceeds to the stage. next in the World Trade Organization.
Trade experts say Australia stands to gain from the involvement of major players such as the EU and US as it has more trade litigation specialists and the wine dispute will be probably more complicated than the barley tariff battle.
Trade Minister Dan Tehan is due to fly from Vietnam to Japan on Wednesday as part of a two-week trip to diversify Australia’s trade ties amid mounting tensions with China and ” advocate support for a functioning rules-based global trading system. ”.
The US, EU, Japan and UK are among those who have already joined as third parties in the WTO case over China’s decision to impose tariffs raised on Australian barley, the first in a series of trade measures taken by Beijing as relations deteriorated. Last year.
But it is understood that Australia has not yet received any requests to participate in the consultations on the more recent challenge against Chinese tariffs on Australian wine.
In both cases, China argued that the tariffs are justified by the fact that Australia “dumps” low-priced products into the Chinese market and supports sectors with unfair subsidies – claims Australia denies.
Over the past two weeks, Guardian Australia has asked various countries if they are likely to join as a third party in the wine tariffs case.
A spokesperson for the United States Trade Representative (USTR) responded that the United States “is engaging with allies such as Australia to tackle unfair, non-trade and undemocratic practices by China that harm our workers. and to our businesses ”.
USTR, Katherine Tai and Tehan were committed to strengthening cooperation, the spokesperson said, adding: “The United States will pursue these common goals through the WTO, where appropriate.”
A spokesperson for the US Embassy in Canberra also said the US will “work with friends and allies to push back forcefully when we see countries attempting to undermine” the rules-based international order.
“We have Australia’s back against economic coercion, and other countries too,” the US embassy spokesperson said.
The comments can be seen as an attempt to push back China’s offer to drive a wedge between Australia and its US ally on trade. Some Australian analysts also believe Australia has suffered collateral damage due to the Trump administration’s trade tactics.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian last week amplified claims that U.S. exporters to China had won at the expense of Australian exporters.
Zhao said Australia was acting “like a cat’s paw” for the United States and Australians were paying for their government’s “wrong policies”.
“We will not allow any country to reap profits by doing business with China while accusing and undermining China baselessly and undermining China’s core interests on the basis of ideology,” Zhao said.
Australia formally requested consultations with China on wine tariffs late last month, a step that must take place before a WTO panel can be established to hear the dispute.
Guardian Australia understands that the EU will join as a third party if the issue cannot be resolved in the talks, seeking to ensure that WTO rules are interpreted and applied consistently and correctly. It would not mean that the EU would take sides.
The UK has said it reserves its rights “in disputes where it has a substantial interest”.
“We will follow the matter closely and look forward to seeing the parties’ submissions in due course,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of International Trade said.
New Zealand said it had made no decision to join other disputes “at this stage”, but noted that it frequently joins cases.
New Zealand joined the barley case “because it raises systemic issues important to the effective functioning of the rules-based multilateral trading system,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Business said Foreign and Trade.
“The system is currently facing unprecedented pressures – not least due to the business impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. “
A source at the Japanese Embassy in Canberra said that Japan had joined the barley affair “to engage constructively in terms of strengthening the multilateral free trade system and facilitating a peaceful settlement ”of the dispute.
The source did not say whether Japan was likely to join the wine dispute, but it “regularly exchanged views on trade issues with the Australian government at different levels.”
“We see that the implications of these issues are not limited to those between Australia and China; similar problems have arisen in a number of other countries, including Japan, ”the source told the Japanese embassy.
“Japan also has the past experience of dealing with China’s export restrictions on rare earths and has requested and carried out the establishment of WTO panels.”
Canada said it has held constant talks with Australia to support and strengthen the rules-based trading system and “continues to assess” whether it should participate in the wine dispute. She had already joined the barley business.
“China’s trade remedy rights over Australian barley could impact global barley trade, including Canadian barley,” Global Affairs Canada said.
Singapore’s Foreign Ministry said the trade-dependent country “attaches great importance to the rules-based multilateral trading system” and has participated as a third party in the majority of disputes brought to the WTO during this period. the last year.
Trade experts predict the barley dispute could take two to three years, while the wine dispute could take even longer.
Jeffrey Wilson, research director at the Perth USAsia Center, said in either case Australia would have to come up with a complex set of legal arguments – a task that could be assisted by third parties with greater capacity. legal.