New Zealand has suspended its lucrative kiwifruit exports to China after authorities there say they found a type of fungus that can cause rot on some shipments.

Kiwifruit exporter Zespri said in a statement Friday it hopes to have new pre-shipping protocols in place within days so it can resume exports.

The development comes at a sensitive time in trade relations. China has been accused by countries around the world of flooding markets with cheap steel.

New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay said last month he had been made aware of reports claiming China could take retaliatory trade action if New Zealand investigated allegations of steel dumping there.

McClay said he had sought and received assurances from the Chinese government that the issue wouldn't impact trade between the two countries.