Commentary by Scott Albert.
*The following is an editorial and represents the opinions of the author only.
In the past two years, Australian beef exporters have become victims of the trade war due to the acute worsening of trade relations between China and Australia. China stopped importing beef products from five Australian beef companies, four of which produced and exported 35% of the market from Australia to China. In August 2020, prohibited antibiotics were detected in imported beef, leading Chinese Customs to take action against the fifth beef company to be suspended.
The Chinese market has always been an important market for Australian beef products. Statistics show that in 2019, the exports of Australian beef products to China valued AUD2.87 billion (approximately RMB 13.9 billion), accounting for 24% of total export of Australian beef products. In 2019, China’s beef products import amount surpassed the United States by 17.04% of the world’s total beef imports and became the world’s largest beef importing country. In other words, Australian beef exporters will suffer heavy losses if putting the Chinese market aside, which is however seemingly inevitable in current situation.
Before June 2015, Australia had been China’s largest beef products exporting country. In recent years, its market share in China has been declining, to be surpassed by Brazil and Argentina. In 2019, China retained its position as the largest importing country of Brazilian beef products. Uruguay in the meantime is also expanding its market share and has now surpassed Australia to become the fourth largest beef exporting country. Australian media reported the share of Australian beef products imported by China had slumped to 15.8% during the first 6 months of 2020.
According to the AMIC, the decline of beef products exports to China in 2020 was underestimated by Australia at the beginning; instead, Australia once expected to rely on other countries including Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and India to reduce its dependency on the Chinese market. However, according to a scholar of the University of Technology Sydney, these countries are not all among Australia’s top ten trading partners, many of which have not even concluded a free trade agreement, and there is no other option to be selected to have the trade value closer to that of with China. The fact makes Australian beef exporters worried very much as Australian beef is likely to be ruled out from the Chinese market permanently and completely.
It is not difficult to see that the timing between Australia’s beef exports to China encountering a series of problems and the Australian government’s launching a new coronavirus traceability investigation against China directly coincide with each other. The Australian government’s inappropriate remarks on China and the COVID-19 global public health crisis lend reason to the tensions between China and Australia, while the Australian beef exporters have become the latest casualties in this ongoing political crisis.
Author: Scott Albert
Scott Albert has been working as an editor of Expert feature news. His work covers economic, social, political and legal affairs. He has been recognized for his professionalism and awarded several times. More recently as an independent or working together with researchers he has delivered a number of public and internal reference reports, known as a representative and senior specialist in internet communications.