Agriculture Minister Murray Watt is not holding out for further tariffs imposed by China to be dropped on Australian products immediately following the prime minister’s visit to Beijing.
Anthony Albanese will fly to China on Saturday to hold talks with President Xi Jinping in the first visit to the Asian nation by a sitting prime minister since 2016.
While China recently agreed to review its tariffs on Australian wine following a drawn-out trade dispute, Senator Watt said he did not expect other sanctions to be removed straight away on products like seafood or beef following the bilateral talks.
“I wouldn’t necessarily be hanging my hopes on change on those products in this particular meeting,” he told Sky News on Friday.
“But, obviously, it’s another opportunity for the prime minister, the trade minister and others to be continuing to advocate for those industries.”
Murray Watt says China’s remaining tariffs on Australian products won’t be removed immediately.
Tariffs were imposed by China on many Australian goods such as wine and barley in 2020 following a diplomatic stand-off between the two countries.
Senator Watt said while large amounts of tariffs had been removed as diplomatic relations thawed, more work was still needed.
“We will keep working very hard to get rid of those remaining impediments,” he said
“The mere fact that the prime minister is visiting China and having this meeting face to face with the Chinese president is a pretty big success in its own right.”
However, he admitted the review on wine was not likely to be expedited as a result of the meeting.
The review of the wine tariffs could take up to five months for China to work through.
Opposition trade spokesman Kevin Hogan said any talks with the Chinese leader on easing trade restrictions represented a positive step forward, but he urged Mr Albanese to call for the wine review to be expedited.
“I would, if I was the prime minister, be talking about that, speeding that up, making sure that that’s going to come to a conclusion as quickly as we can, along with lobster, along with beef,” he told Sky News.
“(China) have used trade coercively for quite a while, but they have eased back on that.”
Albanese is also expected to raise the case of detained Australian writer Yan Hengjun with President Xi.
Hogan said the fate of the writer needed to be among the highest priorities for the bilateral talks.
“These conversations have to be had, as uncomfortable as they are,” he said.
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