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Australia ‘hopeful’ China will lift more trade bans

There are "positive signals" China will lift sanctions on Australian barley, the government says.

There are "positive signals" China will lift sanctions on Australian barley, the government says. Photo: AAP

Australia is hopeful China will next lift trade sanctions on barley imports in a fresh sign of improving trade relations.

China’s ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian on Thursday confirmed bans on Australian timber imports worth $600 million, which had been in place since 2020 after Beijing cited quarantine risks, had been lifted.

The timber ban was part of the $20 billion in coercive trade sanctions imposed by Beijing that same year at the height of the diplomatic rift between the two countries and included barley and wine exports.

The ambassador also revealed talks were underway for Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to visit China “as quickly as possible”.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said there were “positive signals on the barley front”.

“We’d be hopeful that we can certainly get that resolved within that three-month window,” he told the ABC on Friday.

“The next thing would be wine, because there are similar issues that face the wine industry.”

The lifting of the timber ban comes after Trade Minister Don Farrell visited Beijing last week, where he met his Chinese counterpart Wang Wentao.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he will be working with authorities to determine a date for his China visit.

“I’ve said that we need to deal with the impediments to trade which are still in place,” he told Darwin radio Mix 104.9 on Friday while en route to Japan.

“It’s a good thing … that the impediment that was there to timber has been removed, but we want to see it removed as well for products like barley and wine.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said China and Australia are important economic and trade partners, with highly complementary economic and trade structures.

Opposition foreign spokesman Simon Birmingham said Beijing should be “fully honouring” the Australia-China free trade agreement.

“There’s little for us to be grateful for in terms of China crab walking back to the terms of that agreement,” he told Sky News.

“There’s been a bit of a change in terms of China easing back on the so-called wolf warrior diplomacy with many different parts of the world.”

– AAP

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