China in communications with Australia over trade disputes

China has proposed an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley shipments amid souring ties. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's commerce minister Zhong Shan said the two countries are in communication when asked about Australia's request to discuss beef and barley trade issues, amid escalating tensions over the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier in May, Australia's trade minister Simon Birmingham requested a telephone call with Zhong after four large beef exporters were suspended by Chinese customs authorities.

Birmingham said in a television interview on the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) on Sunday the request "has not been met with a call being accommodated at this stage".

Beijing has also proposed an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley shipments amid souring ties over Australia's call for an independent inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic that emerged from China late last year.

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