China and Australia, after a nearly six-year hiatus, agreed to resume high-level economic and trade dialogue mechanisms, including the work of the Joint Commission on the Implementation of the Free Trade Agreement between the countries.
The agreement was reached during the meeting of the 16th China-Australia Joint Economic Commission, which was held in Beijing with the participation of China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao and Australia’s Don Farrell.
” China … will promote the resumption of high-level cooperation … and is willing to work with Australia to expand the areas and directions of cooperation,” Wang said, expressing hope that Australia would provide “a healthy business environment and treat Chinese companies and products honestly and fairly.”
The Australian minister, for his part, noted that the parties have made significant progress in promoting bilateral economic and trade relations, as well as in properly addressing each other’s key economic and trade issues.
“Australia is ready to continue to strengthen cooperation with China, including through multilateral and regional platforms such as the World Trade Organization and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation,” Farrell added.
The ministers also agreed to intensify environmental cooperation and combat climate change, and to promote cooperation between enterprises of the two countries in the areas of digital trade and e-commerce.
China is Australia’s largest trading partner and Australia is China’s eighth largest trading partner. According to the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China, in the first quarter of this year, trade between the states amounted to $58.79 billion, which is 10.9% more than in the same period last year.
The China-Australia Joint Ministerial Economic Commission last met in 2017. In subsequent years, high-level exchanges between China and Australia were not held due to Canberra’s deepening diplomatic confrontation with Beijing.
The deterioration of Sino-Australian ties followed the Australian government’s 2017 initiation of changes to legislation to combat foreign interference, which Beijing perceived as directed against China.
Shortly after, Australia became the first country in the world to ban Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies from building its 5G networks, citing security concerns, and relations between the countries hit their lowest point in April 2020 after a call by then-Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to the international investigation into the origin of COVID-19.
China also strongly opposes the creation of AUKUS, the trilateral security partnership between Australia, Great Britain and the United States.
Positive developments in Sino-Australian relations began after the current government led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese came to power in Australia last May.
As reported by Ukrinform, the USA and Australia are working on a joint package of military aid to Ukraine , which may be announced by the end of May.
Source: UKR Inform