By Colin Packham

SYDNEY (Reuters) – China effectively banned Australian barley imports after concluding Canberra’s water market was a subsidy for growers, documents showed on Tuesday, a position Australian government sources described as ludicrous.

Australia said it was considering an appeal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) as it tries to dampen fears that China is launching a trade war in retaliation for Australia’s calls for an investigation into the origin of the novel coronavirus.

“There is no trade war – everyone needs to take a deep breath and a cold shower,” Australian Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud told reporters in Canberra.

Littleproud is one of two ministers who has tried unsuccessfully to contact their Chinese counterparts to smooth escalating tensions over the trade of

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