3 ASX shares that could suffer from China trade tensions

Here are 3 ASX shares that are reliant on Chinese demand and could suffer from increased trade tensions and tariffs.

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Trade tensions between Australia and China are poised to escalate which could put a $153 billion export market in jeopardy. Tensions have been growing between the 2 trading partners following the Australian government’s push to launch an independent inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response, the Chinese government has retaliated to suggestions of an independent inquiry by imposing economic pressure. China recently suspended beef imports from 4 meat processing plants in Australia and has threatened to slap major tariffs on Australian barley exports.

Chinese businesses and consumers have been a reliable source of demand for many Australian goods and services. As a result, Chinese demand has an important role in the post-pandemic recovery of Australia’s economy.

Here are 3 ASX shares that are reliant on Chinese demand and could suffer from a potential trade war.  

Nufarm Limited (ASX: NUF)

Nufarm is a crop protection and specialist seeds company that supplies domestic and international farmers with support for food production. However, the company’s reliance on China as a supplier could put local farmers under pressure to produce crops and feed for livestock.

Nufarm’s supply chain is heavily exposed to negative repercussions from trade tensions with China. The company currently gets all of its products needed for agricultural production, such as herbicides and pesticides, directly from China. As a result, tariffs and supply constraints could have wider consequences.   

Elders Ltd (ASX: ELD)

Agribusiness companies like Elders could also be right in the firing line if trade tensions with China escalate. Elders is a leading supplier of fertiliser, chemicals and livestock to regional and rural Australia. The company also has strong exposure to trade with China.

Elders currently imports all the ingredients for its crop protection and fertiliser distribution business from China. In addition, the company is also involved in the direct sale and distribution of Australian beef and lamb to Chinese consumers.

According to reporting in the Australian Financial Review, the government’s select committee into COVID-19 and the security issues the pandemic raises will also look at the supply-chain risk around Chinese imports.

Treasury Wine Estates Ltd (ASX: TWE)

The Australian wine market is already under pressure following a harsh bushfire summer. Australia is the 5th largest exporter of wine in the world, with China accounting for the majority of the volume.

The operations of Treasury Wine reflects the wine industry’s reliance on China, with Asia being the company’s most profitable market. Treasury Wine relies heavily on demand from China, generating more than 40% of its total profits from Asia. The company’s prestigious and luxury brands, such as Penfolds, are highly popular in the Chinese market and offer better profitability margins.

Treasury has already downgraded its earnings forecast due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Trade tensions could put the company under further pressure given its poor performance in other international markets.

Foolish takeaway

Although iron ore and coal are the largest imports to China, companies in these sectors have a greater pull in Chinese trade. In my opinion, companies and businesses that are heavily reliant on China for growth in the short and long term are the most susceptible to trade tensions.

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Motley Fool contributor Nikhil Gangaram has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Treasury Wine Estates Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Elders Limited. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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