China, Australia agree to restart high-level economic, trade dialogue mechanisms
Updated 12:19, 14-May-2023

China and Australia have agreed to resume high-level economic and trade dialogue mechanisms, including a free trade agreement joint committee.

According to a press statement by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce on Saturday, the resumption was agreed during the 16th China-Australia Joint Ministerial Economic Commission co-chaired by Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao and visiting Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell in Beijing on Friday.

Wang called on Australia to make joint efforts to expand common interests, and urged the two countries to address each other's concerns on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.

The two economies are highly complementary and have fruitful economic and trade cooperation, he said, calling for the important consensus reached by the two heads of state in Bali to be implemented, for common ground to be sought while reserving differences, and for practical cooperation to be advanced.

China will accelerate its establishment of a new development pattern and promote high-level opening-up, which will bring new opportunities to countries around the world, including Australia, Wang noted.

He said China is willing to work with Australia to expand areas of cooperation, and it hopes Australia will provide a sound business environment and treat Chinese companies and products fairly and justly.

In his remarks, Farrell said that the two sides have recently made substantial progress in advancing bilateral economic and trade relations, and in the proper handling of each other's key economic and trade concerns, according to the statement.

Australia is willing to continue strengthening cooperation with China on multilateral and regional platforms such as the World Trade Organization and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Farrell added.

The two ministers have also agreed to strengthen green and low-carbon cooperation, and support cooperation between enterprises from both countries in the fields of digital trade and e-commerce.

China is the largest trading partner of Australia, and Australia is the eighth largest trading partner of China. Bilateral trade totaled $58.79 billion in the first quarter of 2023, up 10.9 percent year-on-year, according to China's General Administration of Customs.

The China-Australia Joint Ministerial Economic Commission was last convened in 2017. In the following years, high-level exchanges between China and Australia had been affected due to what analysts described as Canberra's Cold War mindset and ideological discrimination, with China's top economic planner announcing in May 2021 the indefinite suspension of all activities under the framework of the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue.

Since Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese took office in May 2022, China has been calling for more efforts to bring bilateral ties back on track.

(With input from Xinhua)

(Cover: Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao (R) and Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell shake hands in Beijing, China, May 12, 2023. /Chinese Ministry of Commerce)

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