May 12, 2020 / 4:25 AM / 3 months ago

Australia says China suspension of beef imports not tied to call for COVID-19 inquiry

SYDNEY, May 12 (Reuters) - China decision to ban imports from four of Australia's largest beef processors was not a response to Canberra's call for independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19, Australia's Minister for Trade Simon Birmingham said on Tuesday.

Birmingham had earlier said in a statement that Kilcoy Pastoral Company, JBS's Beef City and Dinmore plants, and the Northern Cooperative Meat Company have been banned from exporting beef to China due to issues with labelling.

The suspension of the beef shipments came as ties between Australia and China publicly soured, although Birmingham said he did not believe it was retribution by China over the call for an inquiry into the orgins of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Tom Hogue

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