Lobsters may be victim of China trade spat

Lobsters may be victim of China trade spat

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Simon Birmingham is investigating reports Australian lobsters have been left on a tarmac in China.

Simon Birmingham is investigating reports Australian lobsters have been left on a tarmac in China.

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Tonnes of live Australian rock lobsters have been left on the tarmac at a Chinese airport due to customs clearance delays.

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Lobsters appear to be the latest victims of escalating trade tensions between Australia and China.

Tonnes of live Australian rock lobsters have been left on the tarmac at a Chinese airport due to customs clearance delays.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham is working with exporters to understand what is going on.

"We are aware of reports of customs clearance issues related to premium shellfish imports into China and are working closely with the industry to secure clarity on this matter," he told AAP on Monday.

"So far as any industry concerns imply a breach of World Trade Organisation or China-Australia Free Trade Agreement commitments, Chinese authorities should rule out the use of any such discriminatory actions."

Chinese customs officials are believed to be testing the lobsters for trace elements of minerals and metals.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the shellfish were screened before shipping, so there was no need for the inspections.

"Australia has been singled out on this, there has been no other nation that is exporting rock lobster into China that has been asked to do this," he said.

Mr Littleproud warned the issue could take some time to resolve.

"We have serious concerns about this and we'll ask serious questions of Chinese officials," he told the ABC.

"We've become aware of this in the last couple of days in my department and our officials in Beijing have been working to get clarification."

China has launched trade strikes against Australian beef, barley and wine in recent months.

Australian cotton and coal also appear to have been dragged into the trade dispute.

Mr Littleproud has attempted to discuss the ongoing trade issues with his Chinese counterpart, but his telephone calls have not been returned.

Australian Associated Press

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