BEIJING, CHINA — China has suspended barley imports from Australia-based CBH Grain, according to a Sept. 1 report from Reuters, citing a notice on the Chinese customs’ WeChat account.

The decision was made after quarantine pests were found in barley exports from the company multiple times, China’s General Administration of Customs told Reuters.

Beijing also retracted the Australian firm’s registration qualification for barley exports to China, according to the notice. 

In its Grower Newsletter, CBH said the charges by China were unfounded.

“In recent months, CBH was advised by the Australian government that GACC had notified them that several CBH barley cargoes, that had already been discharged in China, did not meet phytosanitary requirements,” CBH said. “CBH has not found any evidence to support these claims.  The cargoes were all retested and it was confirmed that all cargoes met Australian Government phytosanitary export requirements. 

“CBH is therefore extremely disappointed the suspension has been put in place and will continue to work with the Australian government to challenge the suspension.”

The action by China was taken amid growing tensions between the two countries. In May, Australia called for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China, in late 2019

Soon thereafter, China imposed anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties totaling 80.5% on Australian barley, effectively stopping a billion-dollar trade in its tracks. China also recently began an anti-dumping probe into Australian wine imports.

About 70% of all Australian barley exports are sent to China, according to Australian government data.