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Trade war

China makes surprise appeal to WTO over old Australian duties

Worst bilateral relations in decades after Canberra earlier lodged complaints

Gao Feng, a Chinese commerce ministry spokesman, said Beijing will appeal against Australian duties on Chinese railway wheels, wind towers and stainless steel sinks that date from 2014.   © Reuters

BEIJING/CANBERRA (Reuters) -- China has made a complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) over Australia's anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures on three products, its commerce ministry said on Thursday.

Ties between the two nations are at their worst in decades, and Canberra has launched two appeals to the WTO amid what it describes as Beijing's "economic coercion" against it.

In an apparent tit-for-tat measure, Gao Feng, a Chinese commerce ministry spokesman, said Beijing would now appeal against Australia's duties on imports of railway wheels, wind towers and stainless steel sinks.

"(China) hopes that the Australian side will take concrete action to correct the wrong practices and avoid distortions to the trade of related products, so that trade will return to a normal track as soon as possible," Gao said.

Australia's trade minister, Dan Teehan, said Canberra had been taken by surprise by China's appeal.

"The normal course of events would be that you would get some notification of their concerns about the measures we put in place through the relevant WTO committee or through officials raising it through bilateral channels," he told reporters in the Australian capital.

"We haven't seen any of that."

Teehan also questioned why China had taken so long to lodge its appeal when Australia imposed two of the three duties in 2014 and 2015, with the third in 2019.

"Why have they have taken this action now?" he asked.

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