Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has called on the Chinese government to “show the world” that it believes in “trade according to international norms”.
On Thursday, China’s ambassador to Australia revealed talks were underway for Mr Albanese to visit China “as quickly as possible”.
Asked whether he would take up the invitation, Mr Albanese said that he would “warmly welcome” further engagement with China, before signaling that the government would like to see more movement on the trade restrictions Beijing has imposed on Australian produce.
“On the relationship with China, our position has been very consistent. We’ll cooperate where we can, we will disagree where we must,” Mr Albanese said.
“But we will engage in our national interest (and) it is important that any of the impediments to trade between China and Australia be lifted.”
China announced on Thursday that it was lifting its $600 million trade ban on Australian timber, a week after Trade Minister Don Farrell returned from talks with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing.
However, the Chinese Communist Party is still imposing trade restrictions on almost $20 billion worth of Australian goods.
Speaking to journalists during a visit to Japan, Mr Albanese said ending the trade restrictions were in both countries interests.
“It is in Australia’s interest to be able to export our wonderful barley and wine and other products to China,” he said.
“But, it’s in China’s interest to receive them as well. Because they’re the best in the world; the best seafood, the best agricultural products, and I reckon the best wine as well.”
The Prime Minister also pointed out that Australia had shown goodwill by suspending its World Trade Organisation case against China’s restrictions on Australian barley, and it was time for China to “show that it supports trade”.
“That’s important, that China show the world that it does believe in trade according to international norms,” Mr Albanese said.
The Prime Minister is in Japan for the G7 meeting, which he will attend as the representative of an “associated country”.
Mr Albanese will also hold a series of bilateral meetings during his visit, and will attend a “shortened” version of the Quad meeting with the leaders of the United States, Japan and India.
The Quad meeting was meant to take place in Sydney on Wednesday, but it was cancelled after President Joe Biden cancelled his visit at the last minute.