Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said Tuesday that his country is not interested in a trade war with China, after China announced crippling tariffs on Australian barley exports – a trade that is worth close to $600 million a year.

The tariffs are the latest development in the deteriorating relationship between Canberra and Beijing, which began when Australia called for an international inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic.

Even though the two sides say barley tariffs and the coronavirus inquiry aren’t linked, some are questioning whether Beijing’s latest move is economic payback.

“Australia is not interested in a trade war. We don’t conduct our trade policy on a tit-for-tat basis. We operate according to the trade rules that we strongly support as a country and we will continue to do that. We acknowledge that China has a right to use anti-dumping laws and rules. We use those laws and rules at times as well. But it is a case where China, we are thinking in this case, has made errors of both facts and law in the application of those rules,” Birmingham said.

Australia’s Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said Tuesday that Australia reserves its right to go to the World Trade Organization to mediate in the decision.