China lifts tariffs on Australian wine in latest sign of thawing relations

China is removing its heavy tariffs on Australian wine. The move is the latest sign that once-sour economic relations between the two countries are improving.

China's Ministry of Commerce announced on Thursday that Beijing would lift the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs of as much as 218 percent from Friday.

A spokesperson for the ministry said China and Australia are mutually important trade partners and the two sides will facilitate the stable and healthy development of their economic and trade ties.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese issued a joint statement with his trade and agriculture ministers on Thursday welcoming the tariff removal.

They said it ''comes at a critical time for the Australian wine industry" and both Australian producers and Chinese consumers will benefit from the re-entry of Australian wine into the Chinese market.

The statement added that the removal "means that Australia will discontinue its legal proceedings at the World Trade Organization."

Ties between the two countries soured in 2020, when Australia called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus.

China started to impose tariffs on Australian wine in 2021, prompting Canberra to lodge a complaint with the WTO.

But under Albanese, who took office in 2022, the government began working to mend economic and other relations with China. Last October, Beijing agreed to review the tariffs.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Canberra last week and agreed with his Australian counterpart, Penny Wong, that both sides would promote cooperation in areas including the economy and trade.