PM talks up trade breakthrough ahead of China trip

Anthony Albanese has given his strongest indication yet Australia's wine woes with China are at an end.

Speaking to Nova FM just days out from travelling to Beijing, the prime minister said on Tuesday: "We've managed to resolve the dispute on wine and on timber and barley."

Tariffs have been dropped on the other two products but publicly, the Chinese side has only agreed to review impediments on wine after Australia suspended its World Trade Organisation case.

The review was due in early 2024. It was the same process China used before dropping barley tariffs, with Australia suspending that WTO case against Beijing as well in exchange for a review.

Mr Albanese will head to China on Saturday as part of the first visit by an Australian prime minister since 2016.

He insists he will ask tough questions of China's president.

The visit coincides with an easing of tensions between the two countries, with China winding back tariffs on several Australian products.

Australian Wine
Anthony Albanese says a dispute with China over wine exports has been resolved.

Mr Albanese said while there had been a thawing of diplomatic relations, he would be direct during his meeting with President Xi Jinping.

"Australians are pretty direct and the Australian people want me to be direct about our interests," he told ABC radio on Tuesday.

"To put things in a respectful and direct way is the way to achieve outcomes and breakthroughs and advances in the relationship.

"China will have differences with us as well and I expect that they will put those directly to me while I'm there."

The prime minister will visit a trade fair in Shanghai and meet with Chinese premier Li Qiang, before holding talks with President Xi in Beijing on Monday.

China recently agreed to review its tariffs on Australian wine, following almost three years of embargoes.

The review sparked hopes China could review similar tariffs on remaining products affected by the economic impediments.

"What that represents is Australian jobs," Mr Albanese told reporters in Bundaberg.

"That's why it's in Australia's interest to be engaged in the world, that's why the improvement in relations between Australia and China are in both of our nations' interests."

Barley grains (file)
China conducted a review before dropping tariffs on Australian barley.

Positive signs also emerged in the relationship after China agreed to release imprisoned Australian journalist Cheng Lei.

Mr Albanese said he planned to raise issues relating to the South China Sea.

He denied that a recent visit to the United States would impact bilateral talks in China.

"China knows we're in our alliance with the United States. They know we're a nation that stands up for human rights and for the rule of law and they expect us to do that," he told ABC Radio.

"I've been direct about that and I think you've seen the improvement in the relationship in part because of just the way we have conducted it.

"We have differences and we're open and honest about them and can talk those issues through. We have different political systems, of course, and different values."