SYDNEY : China and Australia are making progress over the resumption of Australian timber exports to China in the latest sign of the normalisation of trade between the two countries, an industry official said on Wednesday.
The once A$600 million ($402 million) annual trade with China has been largely suspended since late 2020 after Beijing said it had found pests in shipments coming from several Australian ports.
Chinese customs recently sent Australian agriculture officials a list of technical rules that must be met to resume log imports, which had since been sent to industry, Victor Violante, head of the Australian Forest Products Association, told Reuters.
When Reuters first reported the start of timber talks in February, Violante was optimistic trade could resume within six months. He maintains that view.
“What we’re trying to work through is certainly things that we could work through in a matter of months not years,” he said on Wednesday.
Violante said the timber industry was working with Australia’s agriculture department to study how to apply the new rules.
China’s General Administration of Customs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
China and Australia are edging closer to an economic rapprochement more than two years after China restricted imports of commodities including coal, timber and barley during a nadir in diplomatic relations.
More than a million tonnes of Australian thermal coal will travel to China in March as the final restrictions on trade fall. Cotton traders are also positioning for normal trade.
($1 = 1.4937 Australian dollars)