In a sign of a thaw in diplomatic relations with Beijing, an Australian second minister is due to travel to China this week, raising fresh hope that punitive tariffs on the nation’s goods will end.
Deputy Trade Minister Tim Ayres will travel to China on Tuesday for this year’s Bo’ao Forum for Asia dialogue, leading a business delegation that includes mining billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest and CEO of Treasury Wine Estates , Tim Ford.
It follows Trade Minister Don Farrell’s virtual meeting with his Chinese counterpart last month and Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s visit to Beijing in December.
Senator Wong’s trip to China was the first visit by an Australian minister in three years.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews will also travel to China this week, but the trip is understood to be separate from the one led by the federal government.
China maintains trade sanctions worth $20 billion on exports.
Beijing has also voiced opposition to Australia’s $368 billion plan to acquire nuclear-powered submarines under a security pact with the US and the UK.
Last meeting with his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in January, Senator Ayres said he looked forward to discussing how to seize opportunities in the “fastest-growing region in human history.”
“China is Australia’s largest trading partner and the Albanian government continues to advocate for the full and timely resumption of trade with China, which is in the interest of both countries,” he said.
“My participation in the forum is the first for an Australian government minister since 2016 and is another important step in stabilizing Australia’s relations with China.”
Senator Ayres said he would use a panel discussion on the future of clean energy to drive action on Australia’s climate change and the vast supply of natural resources needed to decarbonise economies.
He said this left Australia “well positioned to take advantage of the economic and job opportunities presented by the global clean energy transformation.”