By Garra - 17/06/2024 in Beef

China lifts ban on Australian beef exporters

China has lifted bans on imports from five major Australian beef processing plants, the Australian government announced, marking the latest improvement in relations between the two nations. Beijing has now removed restrictions from eight abattoirs but two remain subject to import bans.

China imposed the bans between 2020 and 2022, around the same time it barred imports of a swathe of commodities including coal, timber and wine from Australia after Canberra called for an independent investigation into the origin of COVID-19.

The bans applied to certain abattoirs but did not affect others, which meant Australia was still able to ship beef to China.

The removal of the restrictions should still boost Australian shipments to China, according to Matt Dalgleish, an analyst at agricultural consultancy Episode 3, Shipments have already risen to their highest level since 2020 as a shrinking cattle herd in the United States, Australia’s main competitor, reduces US exports. 

Lower US supply may have been one reason for China’s action, Dalgleish said to CNN. 

China was Australia’s second-largest beef export market last year, receiving 240,000 tons worth around USD 1.6 billion, according to Australian trade data.

Beijing has lifted most of the barriers it imposed on Australian goods since a change of government in Canberra two years ago. A ban on imports of Australian lobsters remains in place.

“We continue to press China to remove the remaining trade impediments, including for Australia’s rock lobster industry,” Australian foreign minister Penny Wong, trade minister Don Farrell and agriculture minister Murray Watt said in a joint statement.

They said China’s trade impediments at their height impacted Australian exports worth 20.6 billion Australian dollars (USD 13.6 billion).

The reasons China gave for suspending the Australian beef processors were issues over labeling or contamination or cases of COVID-19 among their workers.

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