The Philippines has said it is lifting its ban on Australian beef imports, but said it would impose restrictions on Australian meat unless Australia allowed imports of tropical fruit from the Philippines.

The Philippines imposed the beef ban in November because of a small outbreak of anthrax in the Australian state of Victoria, but said the ban could be lifted now that the outbreak had been contained.

Meat is Australia’s main export to the Philippines and the trade was worth more than A$300m (US$169m) in 2001. But the Philippines are now threatening to restrict meat imports from Australia.

"Australia's import policy has prevented the entry of Philippine bananas and pineapples which are considered world class and of the highest quality everywhere else," Agriculture Secretary Luis Lorenzo was quoted as saying by Reuters.

"If these issues are not resolved, we will be forced to respond by restricting the importation of Australian meat. We may end up finding a cheaper source of safe, quality meat, livestock, and dairy products in other developing countries."