China to Halt Key Australian Imports in Sweeping Retaliation

China to Halt Key Australian Imports in Sweeping Retaliation

China has ordered traders to stop purchasing at least seven categories of Australian commodities, ratcheting up tensions with a key trading partner in its most sweeping retaliation yet.

Commodities traders in China won’t be able to import products including coal, barley, copper ore and concentrate, sugar, timber, wine and lobster, according to people familiar with the situation. The government has ordered the halt to begin on Friday, one of the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is sensitive.

The notice was verbally relayed to major traders in meetings in recent weeks, one of the people said. Iron ore, Australia’s biggest export to China, won’t be included in the halt, the people said.

The order represents a dramatic deterioration in ties, which have been strained since Australia barred Huawei Technologies Co. from building its 5G network in 2018 on national security grounds. Relations have been in free fall since Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government in April called for an independent probe into the origins of the coronavirus.