China resumes timber imports from Australia

Sydney, Australia, May 18 (EFE).- China’s ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, announced Thursday that Beijing had approved the resumption of import of timber from the Oceania country, suspended in 2020, amid a thaw in trade tensions between the two nations.

“Yesterday, the Chinese Customs have formally notified the Australian Minister of Agriculture that, starting from today, China will resume import of Australian timbers,” Xiao told reporters in Canberra, public broadcaster ABC reported.

Before the import ban, the Australian annual timber trade to China was valued at AU$ 1.6 billion (about $1.06 billion).

The lifting of the ban comes a week after Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell’s visit to China, where he agreed with his counterpart Wang Wentao to intensify talks to resolve the longstanding trade dispute between both countries.

Trade tensions with China have affected not only the Australian logging industry, but also the trading of other products such as wine, lobster, coal and beef.

Last month, China promised to conduct an “expedited review” of the tariffs on Australian goods, including barley, in exchange for Australia’s temporary suspension of its case with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the measures.

Despite the series of restrictions, bilateral trade in goods between Australia and China totaled about AU$ 287 billion ($191 billion) in 2022, according to official sources.

China imposed restrictions on several Australian products in 2020 after the government of then Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an international inquiry on the origin of Covid-19, although China, Australia’s biggest trading partner, denies this being the reason.

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.

The thaw comes despite Australia’s recent push for the AUKUS security pact with the United States and the United Kingdom, which is seen as an effort to counter China’s growing military influence in the strategic Indo-Pacific region. EFE


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