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David Littleproud ‘disappointed’ by Chinese accusations

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China has finally agreed to the call for an independent inquiry into coronavirus, but not before crippling Australian barley farmers with an 80 per cent tariff on exports.

Many argue the timing shows this is clearly a form of retaliation against Australia for their calls for an inquiry, but Agriculture Minister David Littleproud told Deborah Knight this has been a long time coming.

“It’s been going on for 18 months, in fact, there was a six-month extension well before COVID-19, so it had to be dealt with at this juncture.”

Mr Littleproud denied China’s accusations that Australia subsidises farmers and dumps grain into China.

“To say that I’m disappointed [about the claim] is an understatement.

“We’ll assess their decision and the detail behind that and then the Trade Minister and I will engage with industry and consider taking it to the independent umpire, which is the WTO (World Trade Organisation) for further consideration.

“I want to make sure that I protect Australian farmers and I’ll support them. If we’ve been aggrieved then we’ll go to the umpire.”

China issued a statement saying it’s “nothing but a joke” that Australia is the reason for the inquiry.

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Image: Getty