News China suspends Australian timber imports from New South Wales and Western Australia

China suspends Australian timber imports from New South Wales and Western Australia

The ban comes amid rising tensions between Beijing and Canberra. Photo: SA Timber Processors Association
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China has suspended imports of Australian timber from New South Wales and Western Australia after local customs offices said they’d found pests in the cargo.

The declaration came from the General Administration of Customs late on Wednesday.

China had earlier suspended timber shipments from other Australian states including Victoria and Queensland, amid worsening relations between Beijing and Canberra.

In recent months a range of Australian products have been hit by bans or new tariffs, including coal, wine and lobsters.

When China announced its earlier decision to ban timber exports from South Australia and Tasmania, it cited a similar pest problem claiming it put the ban in place to “prevent the pests entering China and to protect our country’s forestry and ecological safety”.

Australia appealed earlier this month to the World Trade Organisation for help in the deteriorating fight with China, but the Finance Minister warns the process could take years as the global body is in a “state of dysfunction”.

China, in return, has pointed an accusatory finger at the Morrison government’s actions in blocking billions in Chinese business deals, claiming Australia has breached a free trade agreement between the two nations by rejecting foreign investment.

“It has gone so far down the wrong path,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.

Mr Wang said the hostility can be traced back to the federal government blocking “dozens” of Chinese companies from investing in Australia.

But he singled out two major business deals in particular – a proposed takeover of gas pipeline company APA Group by Hong Kong’s CK Infrastructure in 2018, and Mengniu Dairy’s proposed takeover of Lion Dairy earlier this year.

Neither deal was opposed by Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board, which oversees proposed foreign takeover bids, but both were eventually blocked by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg citing national security and national interest concerns in both cases.