China’s ambassador to Canberra announced on Thursday that China is ready to recommence imports of Australian timber from this week, alongside ongoing discussions regarding a potential visit by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to Beijing.
Since late 2020, the once thriving annual timber trade between the two countries, valued at around A$600 million ($407 million), had faced significant disruptions. These disruptions arose after Beijing cited the discovery of pests in timber shipments originating from various Australian ports.
The Australian center-left Labor government has been actively advocating for an end to unofficial Chinese bans and tariffs imposed on Australian products, including coal, timber, and lobster, during a particularly strained period in diplomatic relations in 2020.
Ambassador Xiao Qian stated, “Yesterday, the Australian minister of agriculture received formal notification from Chinese customs, announcing the resumption of Australian timber imports from today onwards.”
This development aligns with earlier reports in March regarding discussions between Chinese customs and Australian agricultural officials, centered around reestablishing the timber trade.
Notably, this reopening of China’s market to Australian timber coincides with Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell’s recent return from a visit to Beijing. Furthermore, in December, Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s visit was followed by the subsequent resumption of coal shipments.
Ambassador Xiao mentioned that talks regarding a potential visit by Prime Minister Albanese were underway, expressing hope for an early realization of this visit. “We are maintaining communication between the Chinese and Australian sides through diplomatic channels to determine a mutually convenient time,” he stated.
Looking ahead, Xiao anticipated increased travel and engagement between officials from both countries in the latter half of the year. This includes prospective visits by Australian state premiers, the leader of Sichuan province, and a senior leader from Shanghai.
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