No changes to Chinese sanctions on Australian goods have been announced but ministers remain hopeful breakthrough meetings will lead to their removal.
Agriculture Minister Murray Watt welcomed a meeting between Trade Minister Don Farrell and his Chinese counterpart Wang Wentao to be held next week for the first time in three years.
“There are lots of rumours flying around but nothing really confirmed about changes as far as they apply to agricultural products,” he told ABC radio about the sanctions.
“Obviously, it’s an encouraging thing that our trade ministers can be having those discussions.”
Asked how Australia is keeping the pressure on China to drop the sanctions, he said, “by communicating that directly to them whenever we have that opportunity,” Mr Watt said.
“I’m sure that Don will give that message in his meeting next week, just as the prime minister and the foreign minister have done already.”
Australia’s trade relationship with Britain is also set for a boost with London preparing to ratify a bilateral free trade agreement.
The agreement will go back through the House of Lords for its third reading.
Mr Watt said Canberra continued to work hard to see the agreement come into effect as quickly as possible after the Australian parliament ticked off their side of the deal at the end of last year.
“There was some talk while we were in London that there would be a range of amendments to that legislation, which would have slowed things down,” he said.
“But whether it was because of the meetings we had or other factors, pleasingly all of those amendments were withdrawn.”
(Australian Associated Press)