SYDNEY, May 12 (Reuters) - Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang is expected to visit Australia in July as diplomatic relations between the two trading partners stabilise, The South China Morning Post reported and an Australia academic said.

The visit, which has not been officially announced, would take place in July, citing a source "close to the Chinese government" and an Australian academic, The South China Morning Post reported on Friday.

The academic, director of the Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI) at the University of Technology Sydney, James Laurenceson, said he was aware of a July visit but told Reuters he could not confirm a date.

"Qin Gang visiting Australia is big news, in that he'll be the highest-profile Chinese official to arrive since the bilateral thaw," Laurenceson told Reuters.

Diplomatic exchanges had frozen in 2020 as China placed curbs on a dozen Australian exports after it was angered by Australia's call for an international investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tensions have eased since Australia elected a Labor government in May 2022. Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong visited Beijing in December.

"A reciprocal visit to Australia by Qin Gang for the 2023 Foreign and Strategic Dialogue is part of the restored normal course of bilateral diplomacy," Laurenceson said.

The dialogue is an annual formal meeting between the two nations, whose foreign ministers last met in March on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in New Delhi.

China is Australia's largest trading partner, with two-way trade in goods worth A$287 billion ($195 billion) in 2022, dominated by iron ore exports which China cannot easily replace.

Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell is meeting his Chinese counterpart in Beijing on Friday, as Canberra pushes for Beijing to remove all trade barriers on its exports, which began to ease this year.

Wong's office did not respond to a request for comment on the reports of the Chinese foreign minister's visit.