Australia says China has lifted restrictions on meat imports from 3 abattoirs

CANBERRA, Dec 12 (Reuters) – Australia’s trade and agriculture ministers said on Tuesday that China had lifted restrictions on imports of meat from three Australian abattoirs, in the latest sign of improving relations between the two countries.

China blocked imports of Australian commodities including coal, timber and barley after Australia called for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 in 2020.

Most of these restrictions have been removed since a change of government in Canberra last year.

The ministers said China’s Customs agency had announced the lifting of restrictions for three of Australia’s largest meat exporters, without naming them.

A call to China’s customs authority went unanswered outside business hours.

Eight other Australian abattoirs remain on the restricted list.

The ministers said the three producers could ship goods to China from Dec. 11 “pending final administrative processes required by each side.”

“This is another positive step towards the stabilisation of our relationship with China,” Trade Minister Don Farrell said, adding that the government would “keep pressing for the remaining trade impediments to be removed as soon as possible.”

China is Australia’s biggest overseas market for lamb and mutton and the fourth-biggest for beef.

“This is very welcome news for Australian farmers and meat processors,” Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said.