Following a bombastic post by China’s official trade organ stating a sweeping ban on Australian and New Zealand imports, both governments have come out to disperse the rumor, after it caused widespread fear and panic threatening billions of exports.
On Monday, the Food Ingredients Supply Chain Association under China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP) published a post as we first broke the story through its official WeChat account, warning that an official notice has been issued to suspend customs clearance and cargo release for all Australian and New Zealand goods, including meat, dairy products, agricultural goods and wines immediately.
The news raised alarms for exporters in both countries as the post cited sources from its members and said China was suspending these imports with immediate effect.
Chinese publication World Meat Imports Report added that Australian and New Zealand beef were suspended because of suspected “foot-and-mouth disease”.
But as of today, no official statement from China’s General Administration of Customs or Ministry of Commerce have been released to confirm the rumor.
The World Meat Imports Report also published on its WeChat saying that clearance for Australian and New Zealand imports have resumed normal customs clearance.
The news nonetheless prompted a response from Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese who said China has no basis for using foot-and-mouth disease as a reason to suspend beef imports from Australia, as Bloomberg reported.
“We are aware of rumours. The Australian Embassy in Beijing has been in contact with China Customs and no formal notification has been issued,” a spokesperson at the Australian agricultural department said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.
Steve Ainsworth, market access director at the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, said exports were continuing as normal.
“We’ve made enquiries with Chinese authorities, including through our Embassy staff in China. These enquiries confirm that New Zealand products are continuing to be cleared through the border,” he said in a statement.
China has already placed a range of curbs on Australian exports to the country after relations between the two sank to historic low over issues including Covid origin, 5G, Huawei and political interference.
China has imposed up to 218% tariffs on Australian wines, and over 80% tariffs on Australian barleys. In 2020, Beijing also suspended beef imports from six Australian companies and imposed an unofficial ban on Australian coal exports.