Australia and China trade ministers to hold virtual meeting next week

FILE PHOTO: Printed Chinese and Australian flags are seen in this illustration, July 21, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

SYDNEY (Reuters) -The trade ministers of Australia and China will hold a virtual meeting next week, Australia’s trade minister, Don Farrell, told broadcaster ABC in an interview on Tuesday.

The meeting between China’s Wang Wentao and Farrell would be the first between the commerce and trade ministers of both nations in three years.

Relations between the two countries are improving after years of strained ties.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Chinese President Xi Jinping met on the sidelines of the G20 summit last November. Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong has said it was a “step-by-step process”, and Canberra has urged Beijing to lift sanctions on a raft of Australian exports.

Canberra has two complaints at the World Trade Organisation against China’s tariffs on Australian wine and barley, and is watching to see whether Beijing lifts unofficial trade blockages on other Australian exports, including lobsters and meat.

“We want these trade impediments removed and next week I have organised to speak with my Chinese counterpart virtually, to start the ball rolling,” Farrell said in an interview with ABC’s 7:30 Report on Tuesday.

This month, several Chinese utilities received permission to begin importing Australian coal, more than two years after China put unofficial bans on coal, rock lobsters and other commodities.

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