CHINA has placed temporary export bans on as many as six beef processing plants in Australia.
There have been allegations the bans are in retaliation to deputy Prime Minister Julie Bishop’s comments last week over freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.
One meat processor has confirmed the temporary ban to The Weekly Times.
The processor said it came as China allowed access to up to a dozen new US beef plants in the past few days, after the US regained access to China’s beef market in May.
The Weekly Times understands China has implemented the bans over labelling issues, not on food safety concerns.
And the issue centres on “equivalence”, a trade agreement term where countries agree their different technical regulations achieve the same outcomes, to eliminate dubious trade barriers.
The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement came into force in December 2015.
The meat processor claimed CHAFTA did not have an equivalence cause, complicating resolution of the issue.
“It is a minor hiccup … if this happened in the US, the issue would be able to be corrected with the exporter without any trading halts,” he said.
The Weekly Times have sought comment from the Federal Department of Agriculture and the Australian Meat Industry Council.
They have yet to respond.
According to Meat and Livestock Australia, China was Australia’s fourth-largest beef market in the past financial year, receiving 97,492 tonnes shipped weight.
China recently suspended the export licence on an infant milk formula plant acquired by Bellamy’s Organic, an Australian dairy exporter.
That licence issue has yet to be resolved.