China lifts increased tariffs on Australian grain imposed three years ago. That decision could significantly ease the tense trade relationship between the two Asian superpowers. The easing comes just before an important visit to Beijing by the new Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Three years ago, China imposed hefty fines on Australian dairy and agricultural imports in an angry response to Australia's plea for an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in China. As a result, trade virtually came to a standstill.
China and Australia agreed in April to resolve their dispute over barley imports, with Canberra suspending a case filed with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over Beijing's anti-dumping duties. Tariffs will be cut again from Saturday, China's ministry of Trade.
For Australian agriculture, a thaw in cooled trade relations would be a welcome development. China used to be an important market for Australian grain, especially barley. For relations between China and Australia, improving trade could be a harbinger of further rapprochement and dialogue.
A new Labor government has been in power in Australia since last year. Earlier this year, China had already started re-importing Australian coal and other commodities.
Political tensions between the two countries had increased significantly in recent years due to several issues. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's visit to Beijing later this year could be an opportunity to address a number of bilateral issues.
For example, the Chinese are not happy that Australia has joined the fleet of the US Navy in Asian waters to contain the expansion of the Chinese sphere of influence towards Taiwan and the Philippines.
In addition, the broader context of the trade war between China and the United States continues to impact China's trade policy, which may affect the dynamics of relations between China and other trading partners, including Australia. The European Union has also ended up in that waters of the US-Chinese trade confrontation.
China's decision to lift increased tariffs on Australian grain is seen as a step in the right direction for trade relations between the two countries. The easing could boost Australia's agricultural sector and bieden opportunities for further economic cooperation between China and Australia.