AGRICULTURE minister David Littleproud says there is “mounting evidence” sanctions imposed on Australia by China have more to do with geopolitics than trade.

Speaking to CNBC, Mr Littleproud told Will Koulouris said both he and trade minister Simon Birmingham had made “numerous attempts” to reach out to their counterpart and have dialogue around any concerns and issues.

“There has been mounting evidence that this has more to do around geopolitical issues and our sovereignty, and decisions we’ve made around our sovereignty, and our principles and values here in Australia, rather than technical trade matters,” Mr Littleproud said.

“Therefore, having exhausted all that, we’ve made the decision after consultation with the grains industry that we should continue on in following the processes and procedures that we signed up to – not only through our bilateral agreement with China, but also through what we signed up with the WTO.”

Mr Littleproud said they intended to go to the independent umpire, the WTO, and ask them to arbitrate “because we strongly, vigorously will defend the fact that we have not dumped barley into the Chinese market, nor do we subsidise Australian farmers”.

He reiterated a call for dialogue.

“It’s important that, not just officials, but actually government members come out from China and start dialogue,” he said.

“That is a protocol in which we have all signed up to under the CHAFTA agreement, but also under the WTO agreements – is that formal notification will be held at official level and above.”