A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry declined to comment specifically on the case, telling reporters at a briefing in Beijing on Wednesday to contact the relevant department.
A representative of the Commerce Department did not respond to an earlier request for comment.
Lengthy process Dispute settlement in the WTO can often be a lengthy process, and the results should not be known for at least months.
A recent case involving China and the United States lasted about two years, with a panel ruling in September that the United States violated global regulations by imposing tariffs on Chinese products in 2018.
Relations between China and Australia have been strained since 2018, when Canberra banned Huawei Technologies Co. from building its 5G network for national security reasons, and have worsened this year after Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government called for an international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.
Beijing accuses Canberra of being a puppet of the United States and interfering in its internal affairs. It’s a marked reversal in the once cordial relationship that saw Australia host a state visit from President Xi Jinping in 2014 and sign a comprehensive free trade agreement a year later.
So far this year, China has hit Australia with a series of trade restrictions on products such as copper, wine, timber and lobster amid deteriorating diplomatic relations. While some products, like wine, have been hit with anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties, others, notably lobsters and logs, have faced customs delays or increased inspections for pests.
China on Wednesday reiterated its calls for Canberra to take action to improve relations.
“The Australian side has taken discriminatory measures against Chinese companies in violation of international practices,” said Wang Wenbin, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry. “We hope the Australian side will take China’s concerns seriously and take concrete steps to correct these discriminatory actions.”
Wang had listed some of the problems facing China a day earlier, including the ban on Huawei and the government’s halt to a dozen investments by Chinese companies in Australia.
More challenges ahead
Birmingham did not rule out the possibility of raising further WTO challenges against China, saying anti-dumping claims made by Beijing against the Australian wine industry that could push tariffs over 200% had criteria similar to those formulated for barley, and which the government has the capacity to meet.
He added that Beijing’s actions raised the risk profile of trade relations with China for companies around the world. Coal is also affected. More than 50 ships carrying Australian coal have been stranded off China after ports were verbally advised in October not to offload such shipments.
China’s National Development and Reform Commission appeared to formalize the restrictions on Saturday after allowing power plants to import coal without restrictions except from Australia, according to a Global Times report. If this turned out to be correct, such a ban would also violate WTO rules and the free trade agreement that China and Australia signed in 2015, Morrison told reporters on Tuesday.
In a briefing on Wednesday, the NDRC did not discuss the latest development with Australia, preferring instead to highlight efforts to bring coal prices under control during the winter.
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This notice was published: 2020-12-16 12:43:13