China sues Australia at WTO over tariffs in hit to strained ties

This would be the third recent World Trade Organisation case between the two countries. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - China sued Australia over anti-dumping measures on some Chinese goods, further ratcheting up tensions between the two nations.

China filed a lawsuit at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over Australian anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures on Chinese exports of railway wheels, wind towers, and stainless steel sinks, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday (June 24) in Beijing.

This would be the third recent WTO case between the two, after Australia sued over Chinese tariffs on wine and barley.

Relations between the two sides have steadily worsened since 2018, when Australia barred Huawei Technologies from building its 5G network, and went into freefall last year as Prime Minister Scott Morrison led calls for an independent probe into the origins of the coronavirus that first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Beijing has responded with tariffs and restrictions on imports of coal, barley, lobsters and wine.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing on Thursday, Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said China opposes nations abusing trade remedy measures which damage the legitimate rights of Chinese companies and undermine the authority of WTO rules.

China hopes Australia can avoid distorting trade in relevant goods and bring this back to the normal track as soon as possible, Mr Gao said.

The Chinese announcement comes after Mr Morrison said earlier this month that his government wanted to restart dialogue with Beijing.

When it imposed tariffs in March for five years on most shipments of Australian wine, China said the wine had been subsidised and sold under market value, a view that has been rejected by the Australian government.

Australia then said last week it was taking China to the WTO over tariffs on wine which China imposed in March.

"I want to stress that China plays by WTO rules," Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing. "We handle issues according to those rules."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.