Australia is looking into the cause of a hold-up of table grape exports to China. Trade Minister Dan Tehan has stated that about 20 per cent of the fruit shipped to the mainland is stuck at the border, in what could be interpreted as yet another sign of deteriorating relations.
"We're trying to work out what is the cause of the hold-up," Tehan told the Australian Broadcasting Corp in an interview. "I've been in discussions with the industry around what they're seeing and what they're hearing and we also have our post talking to Chinese officials about this."
After Prime Minister Scott Morrison led calls for a global inquiry into the origins of COVID-19, bilateral ties have sunk to their lowest point in decades. According to channelnewsasia.com, an angry China has since restricted imports of Australian products such as barley, cotton, wine and lobsters.
Chinese ‘trade war’ sees growers lose millions
The federal Trade Minister says the government is trying to understand why China has delayed importing table grapes at a cost the Australian industry estimates to be worth millions of dollars a week.
In the past year China has wiped billions of dollars of Australian exports including barley, red wine, meat, seafood, timber, cotton and coal. Now, Australian growers say containers of fresh table grapes that would normally clear China's customs authorities in one or two days have been delayed by up to 20 days, sometimes without refrigeration.
Mr Tehan told ABC that the government had asked Australian exporters to keep him informed about what they're hearing from Chinese customers.