'China needs Australia': Deputy PM adamant trade war will be resolved
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack remains adamant China will continue to accept Australian exports, as federal politicians dig in their heels on a COVID-19 investigation amid tariff threats.
"China needs Australia just as much as Australian needs China," the Nationals party leader told a press conference this morning.
"They will continue to need the product that we export."
It comes amid reports coal exporters could face tougher selling restrictions as China looks to its local market to source coal.
New inspection regulations for iron ore imports in China, a decision to slap 80 per cent tariffs on Australian barley imports and a ban on some beef exports have already seen the trade war with Beijing escalate.
Now, the Chinese government has begun instructing state-owned power bodies not to purchase Australian thermal coal – Australia's second top commodity export – and to buy domestic coal instead, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
The directive followed a meeting of China's National Development and Reform Commission.
"We have beliefs and values - and we're going to stand by those," Mr Dutton told Today.
"We don't believe there is a reasonable case in relation to the taxes, tariffs imposed by China."
Former Labor treasurer Wayne Swan backed Mr Dutton, describing the recent moves by China as diplomatic bullying.
"This is just more thuggery from China," he told Today.
The trade dispute came after Australia joined other nations in pushing for a global investigation into the coronavirus, a move endorsed by the World Health Assembly this week.
Despite the escalating tensions, Mr McCormack said he had "every confidence" the two nations would be able to work through their differences.
"China knows that we produce the best resources in the world, and we will keep on doing that," he told reporters.
"Yes, we will have a few hiccups along the way – that is the case no matter whether it is Asia or wherever the case may be. We will work through those in a considered way."
Australia exports $147 billion of goods to China every year, by far the nation's largest export market.
Analysts believe Beijing will now look at buying coal from Russia or Indonesia as an alternative to Australian stocks.
Mr McCormack said Trade Minister Simon Birmingham and diplomats were attempting to work with China to fix the issue.
The price of Australian barley has already fallen between 20 and 30 per cent since China announces its 80 per cent tariff.
There are also concerns that six shipments of barley already at sea bound for China will be taxed.
"There is an old saying of a slow boat to China, but indeed, it is important that barley reaches the destination," Mr McCormack said.
"It doesn't matter what the speed of the boat might be, we want to see it offloaded."
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