Australia: China trade disruptions 'deeply troubling'

Australia says it's closely monitoring exports to China following what it calls "deeply troubling" reports that Chinese buyers have been told not to purchase seven categories of Australian goods.

Australian media have reported that Chinese importers had been informally warned by customs officials that commodities including copper ore, barley, sugar, timber and lobster will face increased inspections from Friday (November 6).

China buys nearly a third of Australia's exports and the move is expected to further sour relations between the two countries.

Trade minister Simon Birmingham said Chinese officials had both publicly and privately denied any coordinated effort was being taken against Australia, and said he hoped Beijing is quote, "is true to its word."

However, a Chinese source briefed on the matter said that trade of the goods was effectively halted for now, and other products including beef could be affected in future.

They said "It was not an absolute order, but a suggestion."

Relations between Australia and its largest trading partner have become strained after Beijing was angered by Australia's call for an international inquiry into the source of the coronavirus, and Australian police raids connected to foreign interference investigations.

Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a briefing on Friday that measures taken by China- which he did not specify, are "legitimate, reasonable and beyond reproach."