Russian-Ukraine war: Australia slaps further trade sanctions on Russia

Headshot of Josh Zimmerman
Josh ZimmermanThe West Australian
VideoUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses Australia's Parliament.

Russia has been hit with a new round of Australian import tariffs – including a total ban on Russian oil – just hours before Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is scheduled to address Parliament from his besieged nation.

Effective April 25, an additional tariff of 35 per cent will be imposed on all imports from Russia and neighbouring Belarus – a former member of the Soviet Union that has supported Vladimir Putin in his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

The new trade sanctions are likely to further exacerbate spikes in fertiliser costs, placing additional strain on farmers and potentially flowing through to higher supermarket prices.

Russia is a relatively minor trade partner for Australia – the 46th largest in 2020 – but does account for around 4 per cent of fertiliser shipped into the country.

In a note released in early March, the Australian Trade and Investment Commission noted the war in Ukraine raised the prospect of global fertiliser shortages.

“Russia is … the world’s largest fertiliser exporter (12 per cent of world exports),” the note said.

“Australia’s direct fertiliser imports from Russia are low (4 per cent of total fertiliser imports).

“However, the flow-on effects of reduced Russian fertiliser exports are likely to lead to increased prices and reduced fertiliser supplies in Australia.”

The same note detailed how rising global energy prices had already resulted in steep climbs in the price of fertiliser from around $380 per tonne in January 2021 to $867 per tonne by the start of 2022 – prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement released Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia would issue a “formal notification withdrawing entitlement to the Most-Favoured-Nation (MFN) tariff treatment and applying an additional tariff of 35 per cent to all imports from Russia and Belarus”.

“This will take effect from 25 April 2022 and will be in addition to general duty rates that currently apply,” the statement said.

“A prohibition on imports of oil and other energy products will also commence on 25 April.”

“This action follows Australia’s joint statement, with other like-minded members of the World Trade Organization, strongly condemning Russia’s actions and committing to take all actions we consider necessary, as WTO members, to protect our essential security interests.”

Mr Morrison said his government had also supplied $91 million worth of military assistance to Ukraine as well as $65 million in humanitarian aid, 70,000 tonnes of coal and temporary protection visas for fleeing Ukrainian nationals.

“We continue to work with partners to impose the maximum costs on Russia, through targeted sanctions on individuals and entities, the prohibition of energy, oil and gas products from Russia, and a ban on exports of alumina and aluminium ores (including bauxite) to Russia,” the statement said.

“This includes listing more than 500 individuals and entities to date.

“Our sanctions on Russia make up the largest ever imposition of sanctions by Australia against any single country.

“We strongly support similar action by our international partners to revoke MFN trading arrangements with Russia and Belarus, consistent with their national processes.”

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