CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – The Australian ambassador to Beijing has reportedly described China as a “revenge” and “unreliable” trading partner as Australian officials revealed a sharp drop in most exports to the strongest market.
Ambassador Graham Fletcher told the China-Australia Business Group at an online briefing in Beijing on Thursday that he was not aware of any Chinese damage to Australia’s international trading experience.
“It turned out to be as unreliable as the trading partner, it is even revenge,” Fletcher was quoted as saying by the Australian Broadcasting Corp on Friday.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs did not immediately comment on the accuracy of the media reports.
The diplomatic rift between free trade partners has worsened since Australia demanded an independent inquiry into the coronavirus epidemic a year ago.
Australian exports of coal, wine, barley, cotton, lobster and wood have either been blocked or severely disrupted, usually for unknown reasons.
China is unlikely to disrupt iron ore trade, Australia’s most profitable export, while production in Brazil, Australia’s main rival, is disrupted by the epidemic.
Due to high iron ore prices, Australia’s exports to China in the last six months of 2020 fell by only 2% compared to the same period last year.
But after the iron ore was extracted, Australia’s exports to China would fall by about 40%, said Ellie Lawson, a department official.
“We have seen significant declines in some products,” Lawson said.
Officials did not value the dollar in exports.
The epidemic had a negative impact on Australian exports, but exports fell by 22% to countries outside China, said Ennie Gordon, the department’s economist.
Forty ships carrying Australian coal remained off the coast of China, some for “several months,” said Department Secretary Francis Adamson.
Australian coal exports to India և Japan aponia have “grown significantly”, limiting the decline in overall coal exports to Australia’s second most valuable commodity to 8%, Gordon said.
In January, Commerce Minister Dan Tehan wrote a letter to China’s new Commerce Minister Wang Wentao to establish communication lines. But Wang did not answer, Lawson said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday welcomed US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s criticism of the “open economic coercion of Australia and China” in Brussels.
“We want to have a positive trade relationship with China; we obviously have some difficult issues in that relationship, we really appreciate the great support we have had from liberal democracies around the world. “No less than the United States,” Morrison told reporters.
“We have always wanted to work on these issues. But while we do big business in Australia, we do not trade who we are; we do not sell our values. “When!” Morrison added.