Chopsticks diplomacy: China likely to lift restrictions on timber, beef and wine

Australian wood, wine and wagyu back on the menu in China.

Thu 16 Feb 23


China is preparing to wind back restrictions on Australian timber and beef under the latest phase of what insiders are calling a “gradual removal of political sanctions imposed by Xi Jinping’s government on $20 billion of exports after relations soured under the Morrison government”.

Key players in Australia’s beef and timber industry and Chinese government-sanctioned media reports said restrictions on the two key Australian exports were expected to be lifted shortly, offering relief for potentially hundreds of exporters.

The wine industry is also hopeful about selling back into China this year.

Beef exporters also said processing times for Australian imports at Chinese ports had speeded up dramatically in the past month, which they attributed to the more positive political climate as well as the easing of China’s Covid-19 restrictions.

The potential relief for beef and timber comes after the first shipment of Australian coal arrived in China last week.

“Now suddenly there is dialogue, and it is not just minister to minister, but it’s government to government and businesses are feeling a bit more confident to talk to each other about potential,” Australian Meat Industry Council CEO Patrick Hutchinson told The Australian Financial Review.

In 2020, China suspended imports of Australian timber from New South Wales and Western Australia after local customs officers said they had found pests in the cargo.

The ban followed previous suspensions of timber shipments from Victoria and Queensland amid worsening relations between Beijing and Canberra.’

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