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Australia Wants To Be A Party Of WTO Negotiations On China-EU Trade Row

Australia Wants To Be A Party Of WTO Negotiations On China-EU Trade Row
Australia will request to be included in World Trade Organization consultations on a trade dispute between the European Union and China, the Australian trade minister said on Saturday.
The EU complaint filed on Thursday accuses China of discriminatory trade practices against Lithuania, claiming they jeopardize the single market's integrity.
"Australia has a substantial interest in the issues raised in the dispute brought by the European Union against China ... and will request to join these consultations," Trade Minister Dan Tehan said in a statement.
After allowing Taiwan to construct a de facto embassy in Vilnius, China, which considers self-governed Taiwan to be its own territory, has downgraded ties with Lithuania and pressured businesses to cut ties with the Baltic nation of 2.8 million people.
It imposes restrictions such as refusing to clear Lithuanian goods through Chinese customs, rejecting Lithuanian import applications, and pressuring EU companies to remove Lithuanian content from supply chains when exporting to China.
After Canberra barred Huawei Technologies from its 5G broadband network in 2018, reinforced laws against foreign political meddling, and called for an independent inquiry into the origins of Covid-19, relations between Australia and China, its main trade partner, deteriorated.
Beijing retaliated by blocking ministerial relations and slapping taxes on coal, meat, barley, and wine, among other Australian exports.
In the last 18 months, Australia has lodged two WTO complaints against China's taxes on bottled wine and barley imports. find out more
Australia's foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday that it "welcomes" France's invitation to attend a conference of Indo-Pacific foreign ministers in February.
"Australia greatly values cooperation with France and with Europe, including in the Indo-Pacific," it said in an e-mailed statement, without saying if Foreign Minister Marise Payne would attend.
Australia's relations with France, which currently holds the rotating six-month presidency of the EU Council, have deteriorated since Canberra signed the AUKUS security pact last year, canceling a multibillion-dollar submarine deal with France.
The pact enraged Beijing, but it also enraged France. It was widely seen as an attempt to bolster up regional military might in the face of China's expanding presence.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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