The Federal Government has hosed down speculation that Australian wine was the latest product caught in the crossfire of the trade war with China. A Perth-based exporter — who asked not to be named — said he was advised by his China-based customs manager that all Australian wine would soon be hit with restrictions. He said he was told there would be future difficulties with wine imports. But Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham was quick to dismiss the speculation. “This is unhelpful and unsubstantiated gossip for which I’ve neither seen nor heard of any supportive evidence,” he said. Speculation about wine restrictions follows China’s decision to hit Australian barley imports with an 80 per cent tariff and the banning of four Eastern States abattoirs from importing their product into the economic powerhouse. Following the introduction of the barley tariff last week, it was reported that Chinese officials were considering targeting other Australian exports including wine, dairy and seafood. Tony Battaglene, the head of Australian Grape & Wine — Australia’s peak wine and grape producers association — said earlier this month that a further escalation in China’s souring diplomatic relations with Australia was likely to be through border and entry control of wine imports rather than a tariff such as that imposed on barley. “The most likely action would be in the form of tighter regulatory controls and delays of shipments at the borders and ports,” he said. China is the world’s fifth biggest wine-consuming country by value and Australia’s number one export market by value. Wine exports to China have grown by $145 million since 2018.