China has lodged a complaint with the World Trade Organisation, accusing Australia of anti-competitive behaviour against its exports of railway wheels, stainless-steel sinks and wind towers.
Trade Minister Dan Tehan confirmed Australia was informed of China’s decision this evening and said Australia would defend its position.
“Obviously China has the right to take this action, but we will vigorously defend the duties that we have put in place,” he said.
The complaint comes just days after Australia took similar action against China over large tariffs being slapped on Australian wine.
“Why they’ve taken this action now is a question you would have to ask China,” he said.
Another government source told the ABC it was “obvious” China was retaliating to Australia’s WTO move over wine.
Mr Tehan would not speculate on whether China’s actions were politically motivated, but he pointed out that some of the anti-dumping tariffs being targeted by China were introduced more than five years ago.
“Two of the measures which were put in place were put in place in 2014 and 2015, with regards to wind towers and stainless-steel sinks … the other measure was put in place in 2019, and that was the railway wheels,” he said.
Mr Tehan said the Australian government would argue the duties imposed on those products were justified and were introduced after rigorous market analysis.
“We are always, always putting in place due diligence to make sure any measures that we put in place are WTO consistent,” he said.
Mr Tehan reiterated that Australia viewed its trade relationship with China as “incredibly important” for both nations and urged Beijing to re-engage on a ministerial level.
For many months, attempts by senior Australian government ministers to contact their Chinese counterparts have gone unanswered.
“We want constructive engagement with China,” he said.
“We want to sit down and work through these disputes, we continue to do that at the official level and we would be most happy to do it at the ministerial level.”