Australia’s department of foreign affairs and trade recently confirmed China has increased its import quota on Australian wool at a time when several Australian commodities like barley, wine, coal and timber have been blacklisted. The quota for 2021 has been raised to 38,288 tonnes from 36,465 tonnes in 2020. New Zealand’s import quota to China remains unchanged.

“Australian wool producers are gaining increased access to China through the China Australia Free Trade Agreement,” the department’s press office said in a statement. The 5 per cent increase was scheduled in the country’s specific quota under the agreement.

Under the 2015 agreement, China, which takes a third of all Australia’s exports, grants duty-free treatment to Australian wool up to the quota level for a given year.

Northern New South Wales wool representative Dominic Shortis welcomed the development during strained relations between the two countries. Chief executive officer of Wool Producers Australia Jo Hall said the increase was a positive sign, according to Australian media reports.

China last year blocked billions of dollars worth of Australian exports, from lobsters to wine, while refusing to accept phone calls from Australian ministers seeking talks as diplomatic tension rose.

Contributing to the deterioration in bilateral relations, Canberra has been a leading voice in calling for an independent inquiry into the origins of the novel coronavirus, first detected in Wuhan in late 2019.

Australia controls 90 per cent of global fine wool exports, where prices are largely driven by Chinese wool mills and Italian garment makers