Australia wants “unimpeded trade” with China after expensive sanctions

Australia requested “unimpeded trade” from China on Monday as officials from the two nations met to try to mend their strained ties.

At the height of a contentious conflict with the previous conservative administration, China levied heavy tariffs on important Australian exports like barley, meat, and wine in 2020.

They have also been competing for sway in the South Pacific, a crucial geopolitical area, in recent years.

Since being elected in May, Australia’s center-left government has taken a less combative tone, and on Monday, officials from China and Australia discussed the eventual “full restoration of trade.”

Don Farrell, the minister of trade, said he talked with Wang Wentao, the Chinese minister of commerce, via video connection, emphasising the need of “unhindered trade for Australian exporters.”

The two decided to have an upcoming face-to-face meeting in China.

According to estimates, the tariffs and an unofficial ban on Australian coal cost the nation more than $5 billion (US$3.47 billion) in lost income from Chinese markets.

According to Farrell, the meeting was “a crucial step in the stabilisation of Australia’s ties with China.”

As a result of the Pentagon’s claim that China had flown a surveillance balloon above the state of Montana, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelled a previously scheduled trip to Beijing on Friday.

Penny Wong, the foreign minister of Australia, encouraged the two “great powers” to negotiate a settlement on Monday.

“It’s crucial that we make sure that competition doesn’t continue to intensify, especially at a time like this,” she added.

“We all want a region that is peaceful, stable, and wealthy, and that requires the big countries to communicate to one another, among other things.”

Wong made the first trip to Beijing by an Australian foreign minister in four years in December of last year.

By frequently criticising China’s human rights record and calling for an impartial examination into the causes of the Covid-19 epidemic, Australia’s previous government incensed China.

At one time, Australian government officials were unable to reach Chinese ministers on the phone.

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