Australia wants normalized China trade ties, wants trade curbs dropped

Australia wants trade ties with China to be normalized, but Beijing must first remove the remaining trade curbs, said Australia’s assistant minister for trade told CNBC.

Canberra is in dialogue with its largest trading partner to drop tariffs on Australian wine imports that were introduced in March 2021. At the peak of diplomatic tensions in 2020 and 2021, Beijing slapped import tariffs on several Australian exports, from wine and red meat to lobsters and timber.

“That is a good outcome, but I want to see — and the Australian government wants to see — trade with China return to normal and to be stabilized across the board,” Tim Ayres told CNBC’s Martin Soong in an interview on the sidelines of the B20 summit in New Delhi over the weekend.

“Until we remove all of those impediments, it’s not possible to say that the trade is back to normal,” Ayres added.

Adrian Brayne, a second-generation winemaker and owner of boutique wine label ‘Obsession Wines’, handles wine stock in the processing building at Obsession Wines on November 24, 2020 in Tumbarumba, Australia.

Lisa Maree Williams | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ayres’ comments reiterated Canberra’s position, which trade minister Don Ferrell articulated earlier this month after Beijing lifted tariffs on Australian barley imports.

In April, Australia agreed to “temporarily suspend” its World Trade Organization complaint against China for its 2020 decision to impose 80.5% duties on Australian barley.

Barley trade between the two countries was once worth about 1.5 billion Australian dollars ($988.1 million).

The temporary suspension paved the way for Beijing to expediate its review of the tariff decision.

“It’s certainly not in the interests of Chinese business for these impediments to continue to be placed in front of a range of imports into China,” he said.

“What business needs to see is confidence in the rules-based approach to trade, and that the meeting ahead was an opportunity to underscore the requirement for further progress.”


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