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Die Coface Focus-Studie untersucht die Handelsbeziehungen zwischen China und Australien

No easy end to ongoing China-Australia tensions

Die bilateralen Beziehungen zwischen China und Australien haben sich im Laufe des Jahres 2020 stark verschlechtert. China verhängte sowohl formelle als auch informelle Handelsbeschränkungen für eine Reihe von australischen Exporten, darunter Kohle, Gerste, Rindfleisch, Wein, Baumwolle und andere. Coface erwartet jedoch, dass das australische BIP bereits in diesem Jahr wieder das Niveau von 2019 erreichen wird. Allerdings wächst die Sorge, dass China im Zuge einer Eskalation der bilateralen Spannungen seine Haltung gegenüber Australien verschärfen und möglicherweise damit beginnen wird, australische Dienstleistungsexporte ins Visier zu nehmen, insbesondere in den Bereichen Tourismus und Bildung, wodurch 2% des australischen BIP in Gefahr geraten könnten.


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The reasons for bilateral tensions between China and Australia

The China-Australia bilateral relationship is multi-facet, ranging from national security, economics and trade to foreign policy and domestic politics. Trade relations between China and Australia deteriorated when Australia’s Anti-Dumping Commission extended anti-dumping duties on Chinese stainless steel sinks on 28 February 2020 following an investigation into Chinese aluminium extrusions. Between March and July last year, there were a further eight anti-dumping actions against Chinese products, such as steel[1]. On 19 April 2020, Australia pushed for a call for an investigation into the origins of coronavirus, adding to pressure on China over its handling of the Covid-19 outbreak. During May 2020, China imposed anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on Australian barley imports into China, citing investigations that started in 2018. China subsequently imposed tariffs on other Australian exports, such as wine, as well as formal and informal bans on products ranging from beef and timber to cotton and coal.


A resilient Australian economy

With China taking more than one-third of Australia’s total exports, rising trade tensions are seen as a potential threat to Australia’s economic outlook. However, iron ore, the mainstay of Australian exports to China, has been spared in the ongoing trade dispute, due to a lack of suitable alternatives. Meanwhile, despite China’s trade action, the Australian economy continued a solid recovery from the pandemic, registering two consecutive quarterly GDP growth in the second half of 2020 as business conditions move towards normality following an easing of containment measures.


Bilateral relations may worsen further

Chinese trade restrictions so far have a muted impact on the broader Australian economy due to two main factors: first, the ability of some affected sectors to find alternative markets, such as Saudi Arabia for barley, and Southeast Asian countries for cotton, and second, top exports such as iron ore and natural gas were not targeted by China. With both sides interpreting the dispute through the lens of national sovereignty, the situation is unlikely to improve any time soon. We expect Australia’s GDP to be back to 2019 level as soon as this year. Future development of China-Australia tensions will be closely monitored by Asian countries for guidance as to the extent of economic damage potentially suffered should they be caught in a similar situation. Furthermore, amid the ongoing strategic competition and political differences between the US and China, Asian countries will be hard-pressed if they are forced to choose between the two sides.



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