Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, China’s President Xi Jinping
China has lifted suspensions off three Australian abattoirs, in a further easing of trade sanctions. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS
  • politics (general)

China eases trade beef but abattoirs chase bigger stake

Tess Ikonomou December 12, 2023

China has lifted suspensions from three Australian abattoirs in a further easing of punitive trade sanctions.

China’s customs agency has removed bans on Teys Australia in Naracoorte, South Australia, Australian Lamb Company in Colac, Victoria, and JBS in Melbourne.

But eight Australian red meat processing facilities remain suspended.

The bans were introduced between 2020 and early 2022, with Beijing citing COVID-19 cases in the workforce and labelling issues.

Beef cattle
 Three Australian abattoirs will be allowed to export beef to China again. Image by Dan Peled/AAP PHOTOS 

China slapped sanctions worth $20 billion on Australian products during the height of diplomatic tensions, after the Morrison government called for an independent inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic.

Australian Meat Industry Council chief executive Patrick Hutchison welcomed the latest development.

“We will continue to advocate strongly for all remaining suspended plants to also regain access to China as a matter of priority,” he said.

“We hope this represents a restabilisation of the trade in meat to China which will also allow for a process and pathway for new access to the market.”

Trade Minister Don Farrell also welcomed the decision and called for the other bans to be lifted.

“This is another positive step towards the stabilisation of our relationship with China,” he said.

“The Albanese government will keep pressing for the remaining trade impediments to be removed as soon as possible.”

Senator Farrell previously said he was confident the remaining sanctions would be gone by Christmas.

Don Farrell
 Trade Minister Don Farrell is working to lift Chinese sanctions on rock lobster exports. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS 

South Australia’s Trade Minister Nick Champion described the announcement as positive news for strengthening the relationship with Beijing.

“This multi-million-dollar industry is an important part of our state’s economy and the easing of these restrictions will provide a welcome trading and jobs boost,” he said.

“Progress at both state and federal levels is steadily stabilising relations with China – and we will continue to advocate for eased restrictions, including on wine and lobster.”

Sanctions remain on rock lobster exports and Beijing is reviewing bans on Australian wine worth $1.2 billion through a five-month process after Canberra agreed to suspend a dispute lodged with the World Trade Organisation.

The development follows a series of meetings between Senator Farrell and his Chinese counterpart Wang Wentao.