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China Imposes Massive Tariffs on Australia Barley Imports, Sparking Fears of Trade War

Packages of beef imported from Australia are on sale at a supermarket in Beijing, Friday, May 15, 2020. China has too much at stake to destroy its trading relationship with Australia entirely but is using sanctions to send a sharp warning to the…

Australia is considering taking China to the World Trade Organization over Beijing’s decision to impose massive tariffs on Australian barley imports.

China announced Monday that it was imposing 80.5% anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on Australian barley after claiming that barley farming was heavily subsidized by the government. Beijing just last week suspended imports from four major Australian beef suppliers over labeling issues.

The tariffs, which take effect Tuesday, are expected to cost Australian farmers over $300 million annually.

Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said Tuesday that China’s actions were “deeply disappointing” and were not made in accordance with anti-dumping rules. But Birmingham said Australia will not engage in a trade war with one of its biggest trading partners.

Beijing’s trade actions against Australia are taking place amid a diplomatic dispute over Canberra’s strong push for an independent probe into the origins of the novel coronavirus pandemic, which was first detected last year in central China.