Several hundred containers filled with Australian table grapes are backing up at ports in China, in what may be the latest multi-million-dollar trade dispute between Canberra and Beijing. Jeff Scott, chief executive of peak body the Australian Table Grape Association, spoke about "abnormal" and "unforeseen" delays at multiple ports in southern China, which have been occurring for the past four weeks.
Australian grape exporters regularly ship between 200-250 containers to China each week, with China snatching up 40 per cent of the Australia's total annual global grape exports, valued at $630 million.
"It's abnormal," Scott told 9News. He did explains that urgent discussions between exporters, the Australian government and China were underway to find out why Australian grapes were suddenly being held up.
Scott admitted to being concerned concern over frosty trade and diplomatic relations between Beijing and Canberra and the impact it could now be having on the industry. "Normally, it takes maybe one to two days at the most to clear the fruit. We're hearing reports that it can take up to 10 - 15 days to clear the fruit arriving in China."
Last week, Chinese newspaper The Global Times reported Australian grapes were being subjected to special nucleic testing because of what it claimed was an "ongoing (coronavirus) epidemic" in Australia.
"This might be something new that the Chinese are imposing on fruit arrivals," Mr Scott said of the nucleic tests. But as we know Australia is basically COVID free within the community. So I don't see (our grapes) posing any threat to the Chinese community at all."
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