A potential easing of Chinese trade sanctions against Australia would be a welcome development, according to the treasurer.
Amid reports China is looking at ending sanctions on Australian coal exports after a two-year ban, Jim Chalmers said the development was a sign of relations stabilising between the two countries.
“Clearly, that would be good news for our exporters and we’d like to see it happen,” Dr Chalmers told Sky News on Sunday.
“We’ve made it clear, really for the whole duration so far of this government, that an important part of stabilising relations with China is to see some of those sanctions lifted on our employers here in Australia.”
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Exports such as coal, barley, wine and lobster have been banned from being sent to China following a diplomatic breakdown with Australia.
Dr Chalmers said while the possibility of an end to coal export sanctions was promising, he wanted that to be extended further.
“We’d like to see it not stop there, it should extend to the restrictions that are placed on some of our other exports as well, in the interests of our employers and our exporters here in Australia,” he said.
The comments come after Foreign Minister Penny Wong met with her Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the G20 in Bali earlier this month.
The meeting was the first face-to-face discussions between foreign ministers in almost three years following the diplomatic freeze between the countries.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said he welcomed the resumption of diplomatic relations with China.
However, he said the government should continue to push China on its sanctions and military build up.
“If the government’s got a dialogue and it’s a productive dialogue, then of course it should be pursued,” Mr Dutton told Sky News on Sunday.
“But if we’re just being handled, then that’s not a productive use of time. The Australian government needs to be serious in the discussions and we need to ask China to explain the human rights abuses.”
Mr Dutton said should there be further discussions, it was critical to ensure China would not head down a path of further militarisation.
“It’s not unreasonable to ask China, if we’re having meaningful discussions with them, that they take concrete actions to demonstrate to us that they’re not heading down the path that the rest of the world believes them to be,” he said.