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China, Australia to restart annual meetings as trade resumes

BEIJING/SYDNEY: Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met Chinese Premier Li Qiang in Beijing on Tuesday (Nov 7), in what Albanese said was an annual leaders’ meeting that would continue as relations between the trading partners stabilised.

Albanese is in China on the first visit by an Australian leader in seven years, after a diplomatic dispute had put a halt to once-annual meetings of leaders.

President Xi Jinping said on Monday that stable ties between China and Australia served each other’s interests and both should expand their cooperation, sending a clear signal that China was ready to move on from recent tensions.

“The fact that these meetings are now going to continue is very important for our relations,” Albanese said in opening remarks to Li at the Great Hall of the People.

China has lifted trade blocks on most Australian exports, that were imposed in 2020 in the wake of Australia’s call for an international investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Albanese said they would discuss “the full resumption of free and unimpeded trade between our two countries”, as well as “ways to shape a regional and global order that is peaceful, stable and prosperous”, according to a transcript from his office.

“Where there is geostrategic competition, we must all manage it carefully, through dialogue and through understanding,” he said.

China’s October imports from Australia grew 12 per cent from a year earlier to US$11.96 billion, Chinese customs data showed on Tuesday, accelerating from the 4.9 per cent increase in September.

From January to October, Chinese imports rose 8.4 per cent to US$128.76 billion. Last year, imports from Australia dived 12.7 per cent to US$142.1 billion.

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