Australian trade minister on route to Beijing eyeing 'unimpeded' trade
The Minister says he will be "advocating" for fully resuming Australian imports to China from all sectors.
The Australian trade minister is on his way to Beijing on Thursday in an attempt to restore trade relations with the Asian giant, following years of strained relations between the two countries due to heightened US pressure on Canberra to adopt anti-China policies.
"During my visit, I will be advocating strongly for the full resumption of unimpeded Australian exports to China -- for all sectors," Don Farrell said.
The minister will meet with Chinese commerce minister Wang Wenato, during which the elimination of trade barriers will be discussed. Farrell said restoring trade will be mutually beneficial for both countries.
The once-warm trading relationship has soured in recent years as Australia sought closer military ties with the United States.
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Australia, which joined the newly formed AUKUS military alliance with Washington and the UK in 2021, announced earlier in March a long-term deal with the US to equip its country's military with eight nuclear-powered submarines armed with cruise missiles, aimed at operating away from Australia's coast.
Responding to the move, China warned AUKUS then that they were walking "a path of error and danger."
Canberra also restricted China's tech giant Huawei from 5G contracts under Washington's diktat and most recently banned the Chinese social media app TikTok from government mobiles.
Beijing imposed hefty tariffs on key commodities such as barley, beef, and wine in 2020 at the height of a bitter dispute inflamed by Canberra's former conservative government. China also banned coal imports from Australia, one of the country's most vital export commodities.
Trade partners despite restrictions
The heated relations between the countries seem to be stabilizing as Australia's center-left government has adopted a far less confrontational stance since its election in May last year, prioritizing the resumption of trade.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, during a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in November 2022, called to "improve" and "develop" relations with Canberra.
It was the first formal summit between the two countries in over five years.
The first Australian coal cargo after the two year-ban was delivered to China last February.
"The Australian government is pleased there have been several positive trade developments, including the resumption of coal, cotton, and copper trade and China's agreement to undertake an expedited review of duties on Australian barley," Farrell said.
The trade balance between the two Pacific giants recorded $195 billion in 2022, despite the disputes.
"Other issues of importance to Australians," will also be raised, Farrel added without adding more details.
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