Mr Birmingham said it was the right action to take and it was decided after consulting the barley growers.
“It is the right path for Australia to take at this time,” he said.
“We, along with many other countries, use these processes in a correct and orderly manner, and Australian industry should view this as Australia standing up for the values, operations and interests of Australian producers.”
Birmingham said the federal government has been unable to establish a dialogue with China on the barley dispute.
“We have continued to raise our concerns with China on numerous occasions, both bilaterally and through the relevant committees of the WTO,” he said.
Birmingham said it hoped the matter could be resolved before moving on to the WTO dispute resolution process, which it recognized “could take years.”
“We are ready to work with China at any stage to solve this problem cooperatively, as we have previously done with other nations,” he said.
Mr Birmingham said Australia had a strong case to make to the WTO.
He said that barley exports were not overly subsidized and producers were not dumping their products.
Birmingham said it does not rule out similar action at the WTO over China’s actions against other Australian exports.
China has recently increased tariffs on Australian wine and barley and has blocked imports of lamb, beef, lobster and other products.
“If we do not see the appropriate steps to resolve those issues within our agreements, we will consider further action, including the use of WTO action,” Birmingham said.
He said China’s actions this year against Australian exports were bad for international trade.
“The risk profile of trading and doing business with China has grown throughout the year,” Birmingham said.
“It also has a ripple effect relative to others around the world.”
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has invited Australia to attend next year’s G7 summit.
Johnson’s office announced that it had extended the offer to the leaders of Australia, India and South Korea to participate in the meeting, scheduled for next year in Britain.