Australian trade minister seeks end to trade restrictions during China visit

Sydney (Australia), May 11 (EFE).- Australia’s Trade Minister Don Farrell set off on a China visit, seeking resumption of Australian exports to the Asian giant – which have faced prohibitive tariffs and other unofficial barriers in recent years – as part of discussions on bilateral trade disputes.

“During my visit I will be advocating strongly for the full resumption of unimpeded Australian exports to China — for all sectors — to the benefit of both countries and in the interests of Australian exporters and producers,” Farrell said in a statement released by his ministry Thursday.

In a series of crucial meetings with his Chinese counterpart Wang Wentao and other top officials, the minister is also set to raise “other issues of importance to Australians,” as per the statement.

While in China, he will also co-chair on Friday the Joint Ministerial Economic Commission, the first such meeting in six years, after ties began to deteriorate between the two trade partners in 2017.

Farrell’s visit to China comes in the wake of a virtual meeting with his Chinese counterpart in February in which the two sides agreed to step up efforts to resolve bilateral trade barriers.

“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,” the minister said.

China pledged last month to conduct an speedy review of its crippling tariffs on Australian goods, particularly barley, after Canberra agreed to end its appeal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in this regard.

Despite China’s restrictions and informal sanctions on several Australian products – such as barley, wine, coal, lobster and timber, among others – the bilateral trade between the two countries stood at AU$287 billion ($194 billion) in 2022, according to official sources.

China slapped restrictions on several Australian products in 2020, after Canberra called for an international inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.

Relations between the two countries improved gradually after Australia’s current Prime Minister Anthony Albanese assumed office in May 2022, paving the way for the start of bilateral dialogue after years of tensions.

This rapprochement comes despite Australia’s recent push for the AUKUS security pact with the United States and the United Kingdom. As part of the Pact, in March Canberra announced the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines, an initiative seen as a counterweight to China’s growing military influence in the strategic Indo-Pacific region. EFE


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