China has given Australian producers 10 days to respond before the country imposes crippling tariffs on the country’s barley producers. China has also separately suspended beef imports from four Australian abattoirs. 

China alleges that the Australian barley industry is propped up by illegal state supports, that an investigation by its Minister of Commerce found this to be true, and that it now needs to impose the tariffs to protect its own barley industry. 

The moves came after China threatened Australia with economic retaliation if the Australian Government continued its calls for an investigation into the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak and the influence of the Chinese Government over the WHO. 

Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham told Reuters that “The Australian government is deeply concerned by reports that unjustified duties may be levied on Australian barley imports into China”. 

The Global Times, a newspaper owned by the Chinese Communist Party, says that the tariffs on barley are “not the only problem Australia may face” and that “it might face much bigger problems than barley if it continues to take unfriendly action against China.”