The International Trade Council expresses concern over China’s suspension of beef imports from Lithuania amid the growing trade spat with the Baltic nation and its Western allies over Taiwan. The suspension took effect on Wednesday, and the General Administration of Customs did not give a reason for the suspension. However, the agency typically halts imports of meat if exporting nations report outbreaks of disease in livestock, and Lithuania has not reported any animal disease to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) recently.
The move comes after the UK on Monday announced it would join the United States and Australia in supporting a EU case against China at the World Trade Organization over Beijing’s alleged trade sanctions against Lithuania. China has used trade restrictions against other countries deemed to have acted against its interests in the past. Nathan Attrill, a lecturer in Chinese foreign policy at the Australian National University, stated that Beijing viewed its economic leverage as its “most important tool in its international statecraft.”
China is the world’s top importer of beef but receives few shipments from Lithuania. China imported just 775 tonnes of beef from Lithuania in 2021, out of a total 2.36 million tonnes that year, according to Chinese customs data. The Lithuanian exports to China fell 91 percent in December compared with the same month in 2020, according to the European Commission. Taiwan has stepped up its food imports from Lithuania to help ease the impact of Chinese curbs, most recently by placing a large order for rum.
The International Trade Council calls on China to lift the suspension on Lithuanian beef imports and engage in constructive dialogue to resolve the ongoing trade spat. We support Lithuania's right to open a de facto embassy in its capital Vilnius, and the sovereignty of Taiwan. We urge all parties to comply with World Trade Organization rules and avoid using trade restrictions to achieve political goals.