Exports to China soar to $17bn as trade barriers fall

Dominic Giannini |

Australia went from $0 to $443 million worth of barley exports to China in the year to October 2023.
Australia went from $0 to $443 million worth of barley exports to China in the year to October 2023.

A record $16.8 billion in agriculture, fisheries and forestry exports went to China in the last financial year as punitive trade barriers fell.

The export increase in the 2022/23 financial year marked a 22 per cent increase in value from the previous year. 

Cotton, barley and roundwood subject to trade impediments were boosted in the year to October 2023 after the barriers came down. 

Australian Agriculture Minister Murray Watt
Australia looks forward to more steps in removing trade impediments with China, Murray Watt said. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

Cotton exports were valued at $824 million, a $757 million jump from the previous 12 months; barley was worth $443 million compared with $0; and roundwood was worth $780,000, up $646,000.

Barriers remain on Australian wine entering the Chinese market but there are hopes the tariffs could be dropped as soon as next month. 

Australia has suspended a World Trade Organisation complaint against China in exchange for a review. 

A similar process for barley led to tariffs being dropped by Beijing. 

Impediments on Australian lobster and meat also remain a sticking point.

The re-establishment of official meetings and several leader-to-leader talks had helped improve Australia’s exports, Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said. 

“In 2024, we look forward to more positive steps in removing impediments with China,” he said.

“This includes ongoing constructive dialogue to resolve the last trade impediments, particularly live rock lobster and wine exports and the remaining suspended meat establishments.” 

Senator Watt has previously flagged a willingness to travel to China in early 2024. 

Trade Minister Don Farrell is also set to meet his Chinese counterpart Wang Wentao on the sidelines of a WTO ministerial meeting in Abu Dhabi at the end of the month.