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China agrees to review tariffs on Australian wine

China's punitive tariffs destroyed a billion-dollar market for Australian wine.

China's punitive tariffs destroyed a billion-dollar market for Australian wine. Photo: TND

In a further sign that Australia’s troubled trade relationship with Bejing is undergoing a significant thaw, China has agreed to examine the punitive tariffs it imposed on imported Australian vintages.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says the two nations have agreed to suspend their World Trade Organisation spat while China undertakes an “expedited review” of duties, which is expected to take five months.

Relations have improved since the election of the Albanese government, with China lifting tariffs on Australian barley in August.

The latest breakthrough comes after China earlier in October freed Australian journalist Cheng Lei, who had been detained in Beijing for three years after being accused of national security-related offences.

“We welcome China’s agreement to undertake an expedited review of its duties,” Mr Albanese said in a statement on Sunday.

“We are confident of a successful outcome.”

Beijing slapped trade sanctions on $20 billion worth of Australian products at the height of a diplomatic feud in 2020 prompted by the Morrison government’s demands for an inquiry into the origins of the COVID-19 virus.

Appointment with Xi

Australian wine exports to China were valued at more than $1 billion before the tariffs were put in place but that figure has plunged to $12 million.

The latest breakthrough comes after China earlier in October freed Australian journalist Cheng Lei, who had been detained in Beijing for three years after being accused of national security-related offences.

Mr Albanese confirmed he will visit China from November 4 to 7.

He will meet with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang in Beijing, in addition to attending the China International Import Expo in Shanghai.

It will be the first visit to China by an Australian prime minister since 2016.

The trip will mark the 50th anniversary of the first visit to China by former prime minister Gough Whitlam in 1973.

-AAP

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