Australian tariff cuts to expand exports amid China squabble

Robyn WuthThe West Australian
Tariff cuts are set to help exports of beef to Canada.
Camera IconTariff cuts are set to help exports of beef to Canada. Credit: News Regional Media

Australian exporters battered by an increasingly bitter trade dispute with China can pin their hopes on tariff cuts with key trading partners to help fill the void.

Cuts delivered by Australia’s network of free trade agreements on Friday should fuel export expansion and job growth, Trade Minister Dan Tehan said.

Australia’s relationship with China faltered last year, with the economic powerhouse launching trade strikes and tariffs on $20 billion worth of lucrative Australian exports including beef, wine and barley.

Live seafood, cotton, timber and coal were also caught in the crosshairs.

With no signs of a breakthrough in the tension, Australia is strengthening agreements with countries including Canada, Korea and Indonesia from January 1.

“Reducing trade barriers will boost export opportunities for Australian farmers and businesses in key export markets, which translates to more jobs and economic growth in Australia,” Mr Tehan said.

Beef exports to Canada increased by 92 per cent to reach $33 million in 2019-20 with more to come.

“Australian fresh or chilled beef exporters will benefit from further cuts to Canadian tariffs in 2021 under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Mr Tehan said.

Tariff reductions on Australian sheep and goat meat exports to Korea also grew 8 per cent, to reach $169m, with tariffs on those products to be slashed from 6.7 to 4.5 per cent.

Under a bilateral free trade agreement with Indonesia, Australian honey exporters will benefit from tariffs being cut from 3.25 to 3 per cent in 2021, with sales having already increased 191 per cent to $808,000 in 2019-20.

“International trade helps create jobs and drive economic growth, and the Morrison Government has focused on negotiating free trade agreements in the national interest,” Mr Tehan said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison meanwhile continues to lobby for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The pair last spoke during a G20 Summit in Osaka in June 2019.

Mr Morrison says Australia is always looking for opportunities to discuss tensions but agreeing to meet is a matter for the Chinese government.

AAP

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