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China willing to restart trade exchange mechanism with Australia after talks

FILE PHOTO: Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao speaks during a State Council Information Office news conference in Beijing, China February 24, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

China's commerce minister Wang Wentao said talks held on Monday with Australian counterpart Don Farrell were a key step toward bringing bilateral economic and trade ties back on track, with relations improving after being strained in recent years.

The virtual meeting came after Chinese officials relaxed import bans on Australian coal as both countries work to improve diplomatic relations after more than two years of Chinese trade bans on a range of Australian exports including barley, lobster and wine.

Wang said China is willing to restart the mechanism facilitating dialogue with Australia on economic and trade issues and to expand cooperation in emerging areas including climate change and the new energy sectors.

In addition, China attached great importance to the Canberra's security review of Chinese companies' investment and operations in Australia, expecting Canberra to provide a fair, open and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese firms.

"At present, the economic and trade relations between the two countries are facing an important window period... the meeting is a significant step to push China and Australia economic and trade relations back on track," Wang was quoted in a statement by the ministry on Monday, following a virtual meeting between the two ministers.

Wang described China and Australia as important economic and trade partners, with a highly complementary economic structure, making cooperation mutually beneficial.

The exchanges between the two ministers were "professional, pragmatic and candid", according to the statement.

Wang invited Farrell to visit China at an appropriate time.

Australia is also willing to work with China to enhance mutual trust and resolve differences through candid dialogues, according to the statement.

(Reporting by Ellen Zhang and Ryan Woo; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Simon Cameron-Moore)

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