(Bloomberg) – Australia’s first coal shipment to China in more than two years is about to dock, providing clear evidence of a clear thaw in trade relations between the two countries after months of diplomatic talks.
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The bulk carrier Magic Eclipse dropped anchor off the southern port city of Zhanjiang on Thursday morning, according to Bloomberg maritime data. It transports metallurgical coal mined in Australia to the Chinese market. Zhanjiang is a center of steel production in China.
The Australian government welcomes “any action taken to remove barriers to trade,” Trade Secretary Don Farrell said in a statement on Thursday.
China imposed informal restrictions on the use of Australian coal in 2020 after then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an international inquiry into the origins of Covid-19 in Wuhan earlier this year.
Trade sanctions ordered by Beijing also extended to lucrative agricultural exports such as wine, barley and lobster. China is Australia’s largest trading partner.
However, diplomatic relations between Canberra and Beijing have steadily improved following the election of a centre-left Labor government in May. Commerce Minister Wang Wentao met with his counterpart Farrell on Monday for the first bilateral trade talks in more than two years.
The two ministers agreed to “intensify the dialogue” to ensure “the rapid and full resumption of trade”.
A second shipment of coal from Australia is expected to dock in China later this month, cementing renewed trade ties.
(Updates with Commerce Secretary’s statement in third paragraph.)
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