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China lifts suspension on meat shipments from three Australian abattoirs

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Kimberley CainesThe West Australian
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China has lifted barriers to meat shipments from three major exporters.
Camera IconChina has lifted barriers to meat shipments from three major exporters. Credit: Danella Bevis/Countryman

China has lifted barriers to meat shipments from three major exporters, removing some of the final trade impediments between it and Australia.

Meat exports were suspended from two of the abattoirs in mid-2020 and from the third in early 2022 after COVID-19 cases were reported among workers at the sites.

Trade Minister Don Farrell has previously expressed his confidence that the remaining trade tariffs would be removed by Christmas.

Sanctions remain on exports of rock lobster and eight smaller abattoirs.

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Meat produced by the three Australian companies — Teys in South Australia, Australian Lamb Company in Victoria and JBS Brooklyn in NSW — can now be exported to China, pending the final administrative processes required by each side.

The remaining meat exporters are still blacklisted over Beijing claiming mislabelling or contaminated meat, with the Agriculture Department working with Beijing to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Senator Farrell said dropping the suspensions on the three abattoirs was “another positive step towards the stabilisation of our relationship with China”.

“I will continue to press for the re-entry into China of Australian live lobster, and those red meat establishments which remain suspended,” Senator Farrell said.

“I am confident the dialogue we have with China will present pathways for other restrictions to be removed, and more Australian produce reaching Chinese consumers.”

China put tariffs and restrictions on $20 billion worth of Australian exports a year after the Morrison Government called for an international inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.

Diplomatic tensions started to thaw when Labor returned to Government in 2022.

So far, tariffs have been lifted on barley, coal, cotton, timber and now some red meat.

China in October agreed to conduct an “expedited review” of tariffs on Australian wine — which is expected to take five months — and in return, Canberra has agreed to suspend its World Trade Organisation dispute.

“(Lifting suspensions to meat shipments) is very welcome news for Australian farmers and meat processors,” Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said.

“As our biggest trading partner, the normalisation of trade with China has been a win for our agricultural sector.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said he wanted to continue seeing the Australian-China relationship grow.

“We have made a lot out of the relationship. China has made a lot out of the relationship financially,” Mr Dutton said.

“But we need to make sure that we stand up for our values and that we stand strong for what we believe in and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

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