China not returning Trade Minister's phone calls
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham wouldn't be surprised if businesses start looking for other markets for their products given the growing trade spat between Australia and China.
He has tried to set up a phone call with his Chinese counterpart in an attempt to soothe the growing rift but so far, there has been no response.
China is threatening to slap a large tariff on Australian barley imports following an anti-dumping investigation while it has blocked beef imports from four abattoirs.
Such actions have come within weeks of Australia calling for an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, sparking a furious response from China.
"We've made a request for me to be able to have discussions with my Chinese counterpart," Senator Birmingham told ABC television's Insiders program on Sunday.
"That request has not been met with a call being accommodated at this stage."
Former chief executive of Fortesque Metal Neville Power said maintaining close communications is essential to ensuring both sides understand what the other is aiming to achieve.
"I think a lot of issues develop if there is no communication," Mr Powell, who currently chairs the Morrison government's National COVID-19 Co-ordination Commission, told Sky News.
'What we need to do is make sure that we are communicating constantly and making sure those channels of communication remain open."
China is Australia's top trading partner, but Senator Birmingham said it was up to businesses to determine who they sold their goods and services to.
"I would expect that many Australian businesses off the back of some unpredictable regulatory interventions, such as those we've seen in the last couple of weeks, would start to consider whether the risk profile has changed and may, therefore, look at other markets," he said.
He said the government has lodged a comprehensive response to China's 18-month investigation into barley dumping, rejecting the suggestion that the Australian industry is subsidised so it can flood the market with cheaply priced barley.
He said he may be forced to take the issue to the World Trade Organisation if China presses ahead with its threat.
Australia has used the WTO to settle disputes as an independent umpire in the past with other valued partners around the world in recent years, including with Canada in relation to certain wine practices and India over sugar.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the push for an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 crisis was "completely unremarkable" and Australia will stand its ground.
But China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi has lashed out at foreign politicians for politicising the epidemic.
Former Labor trade minister Craig Emerson thought the Australian government was making a "perfectly reasonable proposition".
"I mean, is (China) serious that we don't want to know how the coronavirus started and got spread?" Dr Emerson told ABC television.
"It is not anti-China, it is pro-science, so that we learn about this particular virus on the assumption that at some time in the future, hopefully a long time into the future, there will be more outbreaks of different viruses."
© AAP 2020