Trade Minister, Senator Don Farrell, has held “a constructive and candid discussion on matters of importance” with his Chinese counterpart, Commerce Minister Wang Wentao.

The 16th Joint Ministerial Economic Commission in Beijing was the first in-person meeting between Australian and Chinese Trade Ministers since 2019, and follows a constructive virtual meeting in February where the two Ministers agreed that “enhanced dialogue was the pathway to the timely and full resumption of trade”.

China still has punitive tariffs on a number of Australian products, including wine, and Senator Farrell said he pushed for these to be removed during his discussion with Minister Wang.

“I pressed Australia’s position for the timely resolution of remaining trade impediments, which would be in the interests of both countries,” Senator Farrell said.

“Minister Wang confirmed that China’s expedited review of barley duties is on track. I reaffirmed that we expect a similar process to be followed to remove trade barriers for Australian wine.

“I achieved what I came here for – to find a pathway to resolve the remaining trade impediments.”

Opposition trade spokesman Kevin Hogan said he was disappointed the meeting had not resulted in tariffs being removed, but acknowledged it was a positive step forwards.

“I publicly supported the trade minister’s visit to China as a positive step in the trade relationship thaw but nevertheless join the many exporters who are disappointed that it delivered no dividend in sanction relief,” he said.

“Australia has been a good faith actor in its engagement with China, reflecting the importance of the trade relationship and the longevity of our diplomatic relations.”

Senator Farrell told the ABC that the tariffs will not “mysteriously disappear”, but he was hopeful the barley tariffs would be removed soon, paving the way for tariffs on wine and other foods to be removed as well.

“We’re hopeful that that decision will remove those tariffs, and then we can get back to work on normal trade with barley,” Senator Farrell said.

“What I’ve said to the minister is that this process is the process we’d like to use to then resolve the issue of wine, but there are other issues like biosecurity issues we need to work through in respect of other products like meat, like lobsters.

“My objective in this process is to simply persevere and persist so that at the end of the day, all trade impediments are removed and we’re back to a stable relationship with China.”

He added: “I invited Minister Wang to visit Australia, and I am pleased to confirm he accepted my invitation to visit at the next suitable opportunity.”

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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