India may emerge as the next big trade market for Australian exporters after China imposed heavy tariffs and sanctions on several Australian export commodities amidst a strain in relations with Beijing, according to the latter’s trade minister Dan Tehan, who recently flagged India as the country’s top priority while looking at new trade opportunities.

Australia’s trade ties with its major trading partner China deteriorated last year when Australia supported a call for an global inquiry into China’s handling of COVID-19, which was first reported in Wuhan.

China took several measures that restricted Australian imports, ranging from levying new tariffs to imposing bans. China imposed sanctions and tariffs on several Australian commodities including barley, timber, coal, cotton, wine and lobster.

Australia then asked the World Trade Organisation to mediate in their dispute over stiff duties on Australian barley in the Chinese market.

“We haven’t had a formal trade ministers meeting with China for over three years, this is something we have been seeking to constructively engage with China for over three years, he said. Looking to really boost the relationship with India, there’s enormous opportunities there. We have to be patient but we have to be very proactive with India,” Tehan said.

He said that Japan, Vietnam, the new US administration all present many opportunities for Australia and that’s what he will be focusing on, as well as seeking to constructively engage with the Chinese.