(Bloomberg) -- Australian beef, lobster and dairy exporters are starting to reap the benefits of better relations with China, Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said. 

There’s emerging evidence that Australian lobster exporters aren’t seeing the same obstacles from Chinese authorities that they previously had, while there are early signs that impediments to beef and dairy shippers are also beginning to ease, Watt said at a conference in Canberra on Tuesday. 

“I recognize that it’s only pretty small steps at this stage, but it’s very positive steps,” Watt said. There was still “further to go” for exporters in some industries, he said.

Amid increasing geopolitical tensions, China in 2020 started to impose a raft of measures against Australian products including barley, coal, wine and timber. The deep-freeze in relations started to thaw after last year’s election of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s center-left Labor government, leading to February’s meeting between the nations’ trade ministers, the first since 2019.

Despite the tensions in recent years, China remains Australia’s largest trading partner and accounts for around 40% of its exports.

Australia will be seeking to resolve its remaining differences with China with dialog, rather than through legal cases and adversarial means, Watt said. Still, he called for increased diversification of Australia’s export markets.

“It’s a combined approach about trying to reopen that big market while also making sure we’ve got alternatives,” he said. “But I think there’s some promising signs and we’re going to keep working on it.”

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