National Farmers Federation concerned over disruptions to agro trade with China as spat over COVID-19 probe demand escalates


By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 12 May 2020: The spat between Australia and China over the inquiry demand of the COVID-19 pandemic has upset the National Farmers Federation in Australia. PM Scott Morrison in one of his media conference said a review of the pandemic was necessary to have transparency on the matter. Australia’s foreign minister, Marise Payne, said her concern about China’s transparency was at “a very high point”.An inquiry demand has been coming from the US and its allies.

A report in the Time (May 1, 2020) says, ” Chinese Ambassador Cheng Jingye used an Australian newspaper interview this week to warn that pursuing an inquiry could spark a Chinese consumer boycott of students and tourists visiting Australia as well as of sales of major exports including beef and wine.”

In fact, China is Australia’s biggest trading partner and exports iron ore, gas, coal, gold, wool, cotton, grains, dairy, seafood, horticulture products, meat, etc. apart from education and tourism revenue from the country.

Australia’s National Federation of Farmers has given the following ‘Statement on agricultural exports to China’ on 12 May 2020 and posted on its website:

President Fiona Simson said the National Farmers’ Federation was concerned about disruptions to agricultural trade between Australia and China.

“Two-thirds of Australia’s farm production is exported. Almost one-third of this, 28 percent, is exported to China, including 18% of our total beef production and 49% of our barley.” Ms. Simson said.

“China is an important market for a range of commodities including wool, cotton, grain, dairy, seafood, and horticulture.

“The relationship has only continued to grow since the coming into force of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement in 2015.

“However, we recognize in relationships as significant as that between Australia and China, from time to time, issues do arise.

“When they do it is important that both parties work together in a respectful manner to, as soon as possible, resolve the challenge, to an end that is satisfactory to both.

“We, along with our members and industry, are in close contact with the Federal Government, and have every confidence in the Government’s ability to bring the issues at hand to a timely resolution.”

Ms. Simson said agriculture had the potential to soften the blow of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Australian economy, at a time when so many other sectors had come under pressure.

“Fortunately, Australian farmers, are, for the most part, continuing as business as usual in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People across the world still need to eat and to be clothed and we’re getting on with producing the food and fiber needed to do this.

“With many regions recovering from drought and commodity prices on the whole – strong, agriculture is well placed to continue to provide the injection our economy so badly needs now and into the future.

“Maintaining and growing our farm exports will be a key component to our nation weathering the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ms. Simson said.

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