China said Thursday it has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization to challenge Australia’s anti-dumping measures on a range of products, marking a further escalation of tensions between the two countries.
The lawsuit – concerning Chinese exports of train wheels, wind turbines and stainless steel sinks – comes a week after Canberra challenged Beijing’s crippling tariffs on Australian wine exports.
It aims to “protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies,” Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said in a regular briefing Thursday.
“We hope Australia will take concrete steps to correct its bad practices, avoid distortions in trade in related products and restore this trade to normal as soon as possible.”
Australia has imposed tariffs on Chinese-made train wheels and wind turbines since 2019.
Trade Minister Dan Tehan told reporters in Canberra that Australia “will vigorously defend the rights that we have put in place.”
He said that while Canberra wanted “constructive engagement with the Chinese government”, the measures were implemented “after careful analysis”.
“Why they have taken this step now is a question you would have to ask China,” he added.
China announced tariffs of up to 218% on Australian wines in November, which it said were “thrown” into the Chinese market at subsidized prices.
The crackdown virtually shut down what had been Australia’s largest overseas wine market, with sales falling from A $ 1.1 billion (US $ 840 million) to just A $ 20 million, according to the reports. official figures.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned his government will react forcefully to countries trying to use “economic coercion” against Australia.
Last week’s decision to ‘stand up for Australian winegrowers’ came six months after Canberra lodged a separate WTO protest against tariffs on Australian barley, whose exports to China amounted to around 1 billion dollars a year.
Beijing has imposed tough economic sanctions on a range of Australian products in recent months, ranging from high tariffs to disruptive practices in several agricultural and tourism sectors.
On Monday, Gao said that China “opposes the abuse of trade remedy measures, which not only harms the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises, but also undermines the solemnity and authority of the rules of the ‘WTO’.
But the tit-for-tat measures are widely seen in Canberra as punishment for pushing back Beijing’s operations to impose influence in Australia, rejecting Chinese investments in sensitive areas and publicly calling for an investigation into the origins of the pandemic. of coronavirus.
Earlier this month, a summit of the G-7 advanced economies echoed Australia’s call for a stronger stance against China’s trade practices and its more assertive stance globally.
The leaders’ meeting ended with the announcement of US-led plans to counter China’s trillion-dollar “Belt and Road Initiative”, Mark of its efforts to expand its economic influence around the world.