Qatar has taken steps to shut down the $300 million-a-year lamb trade with Australia in the latest blow to farmers and meat processors already suffering from China import bans.
In what some see as another retaliatory blow linked to culturally insensitive diplomacy, Qatar has abruptly ended a subsidy which has underpinned the trade with Australia for the past five years.
The Qatar move comes after the Morrison government raised concerns over invasive searches of Australian women travellers at Doha’s Hamad International Airport in October.
Lamb exporters and sheep industry leaders were reluctant to publicly link the trade disruption to the outcry over the searches for fear of inflaming the situation.
Karim Nol, the boss of Sydney-headquartered Al-Karim Exports, said Qatar was one of Australia’s biggest and most important markets and the trade disruption had come without warning.
“For five years everything was going fine, all sweet, and then overnight it is cancelled,” he said.
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