Australian barley growers have sent the first shipments of grain to China since punitive tariffs were dropped, as the trade minister flags further trade barriers coming down soon.
CBH chair Simon Stead said barley prices had already gone up $50-60 a tonne since the announcement that the tariffs would be dropped.
“It’s had a fantastic impact on prices going forward for the new crop,” he told reporters at the Kwinana grain terminal on Tuesday.
“China is a very, very important market for our barley.”
The first shipment left Western Australia on Tuesday morning.
Beijing dropped the tariffs after the Australian government agreed to suspend its World Trade Organisation dispute.
Trade Minister Don Farrell said there was still more work to do on dropping barriers against Australian wine, lobster and beef exports to China.
“It’ll take a bit of perseverance, it’ll take a bit of persistence and it’ll take a little bit of time,” he said.
“But I’m confident that the good working relationship that we’ve now achieved with the Chinese government will, in a short space of time, result in all of those restrictions being removed.”
There are also calls to release detained Australians in China as the diplomatic relationship continues to improve.
Writer Yang Hengjun fears he may die in a Chinese prison without proper medical attention for a troubling kidney condition.
Dr Yang faced a closed trial in Beijing in May 2021 and continues to await a verdict.
The judgment has again been deferred to October 9 as the Australian government continues to lobby for his just treatment and transparency over the case.
China has hit back at the calls, saying it’s a nation that abides by the rule of law.
Asked about allegations of his mistreatment, the Chinese foreign ministry said judicial authorities “try cases in strict accordance with the law”.
“They fully protect the legal rights of the individual concerned and respect and safeguard Australia’s consular rights including the right to visit,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
A spokeswoman for Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong expressed deep concerns about the ongoing delays with the case.
She said the government has consistently lobbied for Dr Yang to be reunited with his family.
Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham said there was no transparency from China about why he’s been detained, what the charges are and what he’s been convicted of.
“It’s completely unacceptable,” he told Sky News on Tuesday.
“There was just a one-day trial that he had, for which the Australian ambassador was denied access to witness that trial, and now we have these very concerning reports in relation to his health situation.
“We do need to see real pressure applied from the government on Beijing to try to get a breakthrough.”
Australian journalist Cheng Lei also remains detained and in the dark about the verdict of her trial.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s next opportunity to meet with Chinese president Xi Jinping will be at the G20 summit in India in September.
(Australian Associated Press)