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COVID-19 Informer: China's trade threats ramp up as world backs COVID-19 inquiry

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WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

More than 100 countries at the World Health Assembly overnight backed Australia's resolution for an independent probe into the coronavirus pandemic.

At least 116 countries have now signed up as co-sponsors of the draft motion calling for an investigation. That includes 50 African nations, all European Union member states, Britain, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand and Russia.

Donald Trump told his 80 million Twitter followers he, too, is behind the Australian-backed push.

Australia called for an independent investigation into the global response to the pandemic last month.

Although it didn't mention China by name, the proposed inquiry has not been well-received by the powers-that-be in Beijing.

China has moved to suspend imports from four large Australian beef suppliers and threatened the flow of Chinese students to Australian universities, a key source of revenue that is already under threat from pandemic travel restrictions.

China's commerce ministry has also announced that all Australian barley imports would be slapped with tariffs totalling 80.5 per cent from today.

Word Health Oranisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus promised a review would come "at the earliest appropriate moment".

Chinese President Xi Jinping said China had acted with "openness and transparency and responsibility", supported the review and offered up a hefty wedge of money.

China pledged $A3.1 billion over the next two years to help deal with COVID-19, especially in developing countries.

Meanwhile the head of the International Monetary Fund has warned the global economy will take much longer to recover fully from the shock caused by COVID-19 than initially expected.

The Fund is likely to revise downward its forecast for a 3 per cent contraction in GDP in 2020, IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva said overnight.

A partial recovery is expected next year instead of the 5.8 per cent rebound initially anticipated.

On the health front, there are more than 4.76 million known cases of infection, according to Johns Hopkins University, and more than 1.75 million people have recovered. The global death toll from coronavirus has passed 316,000.

The total number of cases in Australia has passed 7000 with the death of a NSW man in his 60s taking fatalities to 99.

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This story China's trade threats ramp up as world backs COVID-19 inquiry first appeared on The Canberra Times.