China-Australia relations: ban on US$400 million Australian wheat imports looms

China-Australia relations: ban on US$400 million Australian wheat imports looms

  • Wheat exports from Australia are expected to join a list that already contains barley, sugar, red wine, timber, coal, lobster, copper ore and copper concentrates
  • The escalation in tensions between China and Australia started after Canberra pushed for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus in April

China is expected to ban imports of Australian wheat, putting a A$560 million (US$394 million) trade in doubt, with the grain the latest to join a list of new blocks on Australian products, according to industry sources.

From Friday, barley, sugar, red wine, timber, coal, lobster, copper ore and copper concentrates from Australia, are expected to be barred from China even if the goods have been paid for and have arrived at ports. The ban on wheat is likely to follow, although a date has not yet been set, sources said.

It is understood that Beijing will communicate the bans to all Chinese state-owned and private traders by Tuesday. Traders who have already been notified said no formal document was issued nor were reasons provided.

The bans, though, came with a warning that Australian shipments would also be turned away if traders tried to circumvent the restrictions by re-routing shipments via a third party country, sources added, with Chinese authorities set to pay particular attention to certificates of origin.