Member for Agricultural Region Colin de Grussa has urged the Federal Government to ramp up negotiations to solve the barley export impasse with China and save WA grain growers from being collateral damage in an international trade dispute.
Mr de Grussa, The Nationals WA agriculture spokesperson, said China’s import suspension of barley from WA’s CBH Group was disappointing and had left many WA farmers concerned about the future of this important market.
“It is unfortunate almost 4000 WA grain producers are being caught in the crossfire amid a diplomatic spat between China and Australia,” he said.
“Earlier this year our barley growers were hit with an 80% import tariff by China and now they don’t know if their biggest market will continue to buy their grain.
“CBH and Commonwealth authorities work diligently and have all the right procedures in place to ensure shipments of Australia’s high quality grain meet the phytosanitary requirements of all our trading partners, including China.
“Samples from the recent shipment to China were retested by CBH this week without any issues detected, once again proving our growers are continuing to produce high quality grain for the world market.”
Mr de Grussa was also disappointed at the State Treasurer’s flat-out rejection of State Government assistance for those farmers caught up in the current crisis.
“I call on the State Government to work closely with our Federal Government and our Chinese trading partners to help us protect this valuable export relationship,” Mr de Grussa said.
“We also need all of our West Australian Federal MPs, regardless of their politics, to be advocating strongly for our State’s interests and to be wary of potential damage to our trading arrangements. Our State has a lot to lose in any friction between Australia and China.
“WA is the engine room of the national economy and agriculture will play a big role in our post-COVID-19 recovery. It must be remembered WA grain exports are worth around $4 billion a year so we can’t risk damaging this important industry.
“While we should always look for new and emerging markets for our primary products the reality is China remains very important to WA now – and into the future – so we need our leaders to address these issues delicately but also with a level of urgency.”