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ABC NEWS | Federal government says agreement reached with China to resolve barley dispute

The federal government has agreed to suspend its appeal to the World Trade Organization over Chinese government tariffs on Australian barley just before the international body was due to hand down a finding over the dispute.

In May 2020, China imposed tariffs of 80 per cent on Australian barley for five years, crippling a trade worth up to $1.5 billion a year.

The former Coalition government appealed that decision to the WTO, rejecting China's claims that Australia had used subsidies to distort the market.

Industry sources said the WTO was due to hand down a finding on the tariffs within days, with most observers predicting the panel would firmly back Australia in the dispute.

However, on Tuesday afternoon, the Foreign Minister Penny Wong announced that China had promised to conduct an "expedited review" of the tariffs over the next three months and that, in return, Australia would "temporarily suspend" its WTO action over the same period.

Grain Producers Australia Chair, Barry Large, backed the government's strategy and said the organisation "looked forward to a positive outcome" from China's review of the tariff.

"Barley is an important rotation crop for Australian growers and any optimism on the future outlook is good," he said. "This process to reach a resolution would be significantly shorter than if the WTO process continued."


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