- China banned four Australian meat processing plants last week, while also imposing a 80 per cent tariff on imports of Australian barley
- The move raised suspicions that China was using technical requirements to punish Canberra for its call for an international inquiry over the origins of the coronavirus
The four Australian meat processing plants banned from exporting to China had compliance issues dating back to 2017, although the same Chinese customs data showed two New Zealand processors were not punished for similar beaches of strict Chinese import regulations.
The conflicting outcomes reflect the complexity of the global food trade regulation as well as the pitfalls of diplomacy at a time when China finds itself facing repeated calls for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, including from Australia.
The Australian plants had repeated export compliance issues relating to more than 6,000kg of beef sent to Chinese ports last year, with problems starting since March 2019, mainland customs data showed. They had also been banned for four months in July 2017 for similar offences, namely mislabelling.