China has continued to hoard Australian wheat at a record pace despite smoldering trade conflicts over other agricultural commodities.
A Bloomberg calculation taken from Chinese Customs shows that 63% of China’s wheat imports in the first 10 months of this year came from Australia. It is a substantial rise compared to 15% and 28%, respectively, for the years 2020 and 2021.
China has also been Australia’s biggest wheat buyer. Bloomberg said it doubled purchases to 4.97 million tons between October 2021 and this January. This is considered the greatest data since 2004.
The Financial Review reported in September that Australia’s trade with China soared by 186% from last year when China was only Australia’s third-largest market after Indonesia and Vietnam.
Exports to China increased after Australia reported a record wheat harvest in 2021–2022. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has also triggered worries about the wheat supply.
Yet, it also increased as China and Australia still have a trade spat after Canberra demanded a probe into COVID-19 origins. The regime retaliated by banning Australian commodities from coal to barley, to lobsters, and wine.
However, China has continued to import large amounts of natural gas, iron ore, and coal, which it cannot afford to buy elsewhere. At the same time, as Nikkei Asia noted, Australia has moved on without significant numbers of Chinese tourists and students.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met in person after three years of a diplomatic freeze on November 15. In an apparent détente, Xi said the 50-year-old relationship needs to be cherished by both sides. Shortly after the meeting, Chinese state media Global Times warned Australia against the AUKUS alliance.