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A report in Chinese state media The Global Times He said that China’s “chief economic planner” has authorized power plants to import coal without restrictions, except from Australia. China’s other suppliers include Mongolia, Indonesia and Russia, and it also produces coal domestically.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham suggested that China is breaking trade rules.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham did not rule out bringing China to the WTO over reported threats to Australia’s coal exports. (Alex Ellinghausen / The Sydney Morning Herald)

“Australia continues to defend all of our rights in all different sectors when it comes to handling these issues,” he said.

“We have to make sure we have the facts to back us up when it comes to tackling the challenges of the WTO.”

But Birmingham also said that a possible WTO action could be avoided if the Chinese government confirms that the threat to coal exports is unfounded.

“We are mainly willing to start a dialogue to solve these problems together and we urge China to clarify them, to reject the reports that have been made … so that we can avoid the kinds of legal processes like the WTO. “
China has recently increased tariffs on Australia wine and barley and blocked imports of lamb, cow meat, lobsters and other goods.
Coal imports from China
Inspection and quarantine workers take samples of imported charcoal at a port in Rizhao in eastern China’s Shandong province. (AP)

Birmingham confirmed that Australia was close to launching formal WTO action on barley tariffs imposed by Beijing.

“We had extensive consultation with the industry,” he said.

“We have been working within government to build the strongest case possible in defense of our industry.”

Birmingham suggested last week that China’s actions could violate its Free Trade Agreement and WTO rules. But China rejected the claim.

He said Australia was also looking for alternative markets for coal exports.

The Federal Government is about to take legal action on China’s tariffs on Australian barley exports. (Nine)

“In terms of coal exports, it is important to recognize that although China is an important market, it is not our largest market,” he said.

“We have major markets in Japan … with India, strong growth recently relative to Vietnam.

“We continue to work in a variety of other markets where our government has secured trade agreements to develop commercial ties and ensure that all of those exporters can have as many options available as possible.”

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