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CANBERRA: Australia’s exports of cotton to China ballooned to 61,319 metric tons worth $130 million in August, the most since July 2014, Australian customs data showed, as traders took advantage of normalising trade relations between the two countries.

China imposed restrictions on imports of commodities including barley, coal and cotton from Australia in 2020 after Canberra called for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19, but has removed most of the barriers this year.

Reuters reported last month that buyers including a state-owned Chinese company had been stockpiling Australian cotton in Chinese warehouses in the hope that cotton would soon be allowed to flow freely.

Australian customs data show cotton exports climbed to 22,638 tons in June, 45,619 tons in July and 61,319 tons in August. Those exports together were worth $278 million, according to the customs records, accessed using Trade Data Monitor.

Australia shipped around 3 tons of cotton to China each month on average between late 2020, when Chinese mills were verbally instructed to stop buying Australian cotton, and July.

A trader involved in shipping cotton between the two countries said it was likely that much of the cotton sent from Australia was still going into bonded warehouses in China.

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