On 6 July, an article from Yahoo News reported on a month-long investigation by the South China Morning Post which has revealed the increasing pervasiveness of “grey channels” being used to smuggle Australian lobsters from Hong Kong to mainland China. It was formerly a problem, but when the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAfta) was signed in 2015, tariffs were wiped out, making smuggling unprofitable – also turned China into Australia’s main market for fresh and live rock lobsters. However, the falling out between China and Australia led to the Chinese authorities warning traders that they faced the risk of delays to their imports of certain Australian goods including live lobsters. An official ban never came about, but many of the banned goods – as well as unrestricted Australian exports such as fruit – were met with various levels of increased customs inspections or delays or were detained altogether. Seemingly overnight, the lucrative rock lobster trade into China vanished.
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