A senior cabinet minister has leapt to the defence of Australian trade officials as diplomatic tensions with China threaten billions of dollars worth of exports.
The Australian Industry Group is demanding a better alignment of Australia's economic and diplomatic interests in relation to China.
The business lobby group is also urging Australian companies to resist bullying from China and calling for diplomats to "get their hands dirty" by helping to find alternative markets.
"Let's pull every lever to overcome the obstacles that China has chosen to put in our way," Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox wrote in The Australian on Monday.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham, who held the trade portfolio until late last year, said Australian diplomats were working hard to support exporters.
"Our diplomatic network, our Austrade officials around the globe, well and truly have rolled their sleeves up as they always do in terms of helping to find alternate markets," he told ABC radio.
Senator Birmingham said barley exporters hit by Chinese trade strikes had since secured significant contracts in the Middle East and Asia.
"This is an ongoing task for our officials working alongside industry to make sure that Australian goods, if they are no longer wanted or being taxed out of viability because of Chinese regulatory decisions, find new homes elsewhere around the world," he said.
"Our network and teams are doing that and they'll continue to work very closely with the industry groups, to make sure that so far as possible we help Aussie exporters to get their premium quality goods into markets, as they've done so successfully for so many years."
China has launched trade strikes against beef, wine and seafood after Australia led international calls for an inquiry into the origins of coronavirus.
The Chinese government is also furious with Australia over foreign interference laws, condemnation of human rights abuses in Hong Kong, and the decision to ban Huawei from the national 5G rollout.
Australian coal, cotton and timber have also been targeted as a consequence of the bitter diplomatic dispute.
Australian Associated Press