China slaps 80 percent tariff on Australian barley in payback for coronavirus inquiry call

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Australian trade minister Simon Birmingham indicated Australia may appeal the imposition of China’s 73.6 percent anti-dumping tariff and 6.9 percent anti-subsidy tariff that will be applied to all Australian barley from Tuesday onwards. In a statement released by the Australian government, Mr Birmingham said: “Australia is deeply disappointed with China’s decision to impose duties on Australian barley. We reject the basis of this decision and will be assessing the details of the findings while we consider the next steps.

“We reserve all rights to appeal this matter further and are confident that Australian farmers are among the most productive in the world, who operate without government subsidy of prices.”

But, a statement on China’s Ministry of Commerce website gave the country’s reasons for the tariff, it read: “The investigating authority has ruled that there was dumping of imported barley from Australia and the domestic industry suffered substantial damage.”

Diplomatic relations between the two nations are rapidly deteriorating.

China is furious that Australia has called for a probe into the spread of coronavirus.

Britain and 122 other countries have also demanded an inquiry, but China points to Australian prime minister Scott Morrison’s record on coronavirus and declared the move is “political manoeuvering” by someone trying to distract from his own inadequacies.

Chinese president Xi Jinping said yesterday that China acted “with openness and transparency” in tackling the coronavirus outbreak.

Now the World Health Organisation, with the backing of China, has announced a plan to conduct a review of the coronavirus pandemic when it subsides.

The WHO said it would be a “comprehensive evaluation” that would review “lessons learned” from the global response to the virus outbreak.

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The inquiry announced by the WHO is expected to stop short of looking into contentious issues such as the origins of the virus.

China has allowed a new narrative to percolate, one that reframes the chain of events, suggesting the virus may not have originated in Wuhan, and China, because of Xi Jinping’s authoritarian efforts, was the most successful country in handling it.

But, EU spokeswoman Virginie Battu-Henriksson announced at the World Health Assembly conference several key questions that needed to be answered as part of a review.

She said: “How did this pandemic spread?

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“What is the epidemiology behind it?

“All this is absolutely crucial for us going forward to avoid another pandemic of this kind.”

In the UK, a Foreign Office spokesman said yesterday: “There will need to be a review into the pandemic, not least so that we can ensure we are better prepared for future global pandemics.

“The resolution at the World Health Assembly is an important step towards this.”

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