About 21 tonnes of Australian rock lobsters, worth about $2 million, which remain languishing on the tarmac in China.
The exported lobsters have been held up at Shanghai Pudong Airport since Friday, with China claiming they contain trace elements of minerals and need to be checked.
They have reportedly been left at the airport while the checks are made. It’s also understood that only Australian rock lobsters are being quarantined.
However, the lobsters could be just the tip of the iceberg for Australia’s trade relations with China, with the South China Morning Post reporting that barley, sugar, red wine, timber, coal, copper ore and copper concentrates from Australia were expected to be barred from Friday.
The paper also said wheat could be next.
Australia exports $1.2 billion in wine alone to China every year and it’s not known how long these measures will be in place.
WA Premier Mark McGowan took aim at the federal government to “rebalance and get back onto a good, solid relationship” with China.
“We don’t share the same political system, we don’t share many of the same attributes as countries,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t get on, that doesn’t mean we can’t work together, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to trade together.”
McGowan added that this could have big consequences for Australian jobs, employment and living standards.
“I’ve said this to the prime minster numerous times … if we lose our trading relationship with China, that is in effect a mass reduction in national income,” he said.
“We built a relationship with China over 50 years and we need to continue to protect that relationship.”
There’s huge concern that any further delay could signal to Australian lobster fisherman to stop fishing.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, more than 94 per cent of Australia’s $752 million rock lobster exports headed to China in 2018-19.