China Lifts Ban on Australian Beef Exporters in the Latest Sign of Thaw

China has lifted an import ban on five Australian beef producers, the Australian government has said, the latest sign of a thaw after years of strained ties between Beijing and Canberra.

“China has lifted its suspension of five Australian meat processing establishments. This is welcome news for our producers and affirms the calm and consistent approach taken by the Albanese Labor government,” Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in a statement on Thursday.

Chinese authorities in 2020 placed restrictions on a host of Australian imports, including coal, wine, barley and rock lobsters, after Australia’s then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an international probe into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Beijing insisted the measures were related to trade-linked issues such as dumping, the restrictions were widely viewed in Australia as a political move to punish Canberra.

Many of the restrictions have been lifted since Anthony Albanese, the leader of the centre-left Labor Party, took over as prime minister in 2022, after nearly a decade of conservative government.

China was Australia’s second-biggest international market for beef last year, taking about $1.6bn worth of exports, according to Australian trade data.

Wong said suspensions had now been lifted for eight beef processing facilities, following the resumption of imports from three producers last year.

Two facilities continue to be subject to suspensions, she said.

“We have been clear that it is in the interests of both Australia and China for remaining trade impediments to be removed,” she said.

Wong said that less than $1bn worth of Australian exports were now being impeded, compared with a $20.6bn reduction in exports previously.

The move comes after Chinese authorities in March announced the lifting of steep tariffs on Australian wine, following the scrapping of restrictions on imported coal, timber and barley.

Australian rock lobsters are one of the last remaining products subject to the unofficial trade ban.

China’s embassy in Canberra did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Comfort Samuel

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