China drops barriers to Australian hay as trade relations improve

Credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC

Adds details paragraphs 6, 8-9, link to graphic

CANBERRA, Sept 28 (Reuters) - The Australian government said on Thursday that China was removing barriers to imports of hay from Australia, the latest step towards normalising trade relations.

China restricted imports of a range of commodities from Australia in 2020 after Australia called for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19, but began to remove these barriers following a change of government in Canberra last year.

Australian exports of commodities including barley, coal and timber to China resumed earlier this year but barriers remain on wine, lobsters and meat from some abattoirs.

"This is another positive step forward, but there is more work to do," Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell was quoted as saying in a joint statement with the agriculture ministry.

"I will continue to persevere and press for all outstanding impediments to be removed as soon as possible," he said.

Chinese authorities had declined to renew permits for Australian hay suppliers. The statement said suppliers were now registered to sell to China but some steps may still have to be finalised before shipments could move.

Australia exported hay and chaff worth A$78 million ($50 million) to China last year, down from A$160 million in 2020, and Australia's total hay and chaff exports in 2022-23 were worth A$467 million, the trade and agricultural ministries said.

China's imports of high quality hay and other forage to be fed to animals are increasing as it expands its dairy herd. China is one of the world's largest milk producers.

China has scarce land and water, which is also used to grow key grain crops such as corn.

The United States is the largest exporter of hay to China, sending $698.8 million worth to China last year, 18% more than the year before, trade data show.

($1 = 1.5689 Australian dollars)

Chinese hay imports https://tmsnrt.rs/3ZB3VGP

(Reporting by Peter Hobson; additional reporting by Dominique Patton in Beijing; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Miral Fahmy)

((peter.hobson@thomsonreuters.com;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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