Australian fruit exporters fear trade loss because of Hong Kong protests

Farmers have warned that the continual unrest in Hong Kong could hurt Australian exports as pro-democracy protests cripple the city's economy. Hong Kong is Australia's eighth largest export market, worth $13 billion annually, and recently signed a free-trade agreement to open further to Australian trade.

With the city an important protocol-free port of entry for fresh produce, the chair of the Australian Mango Industry Association (AMIA), Ben Martin, said his industry was concerned about the impact of present unrest.

"Given the issues they're having over there at the moment, that's having an impact on the export market over there as well," he said. "It's having a significant impact on the amount of fruit that market can move, and realistically, how much fruit Hong Kong can consume."

Martin said he has been told that tourist numbers have taken a dive, with the important hotel and restaurant trade suffering as a consequence. With increased volumes of fruit set to hit Australian domestic markets in coming weeks, AMIA was concerned about the impact on prices for farmers.

Recession due to protests
Early data shows the Hong Kong economy entered recession in the third quarter of 2019, with the city's growth at its lowest ebb since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. The impact on retail and tourism has been especially hard, with visitor numbers halved and significant commercial districts shutting down due to protests.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the impact was significant with such a major trading partner for Australia's agricultural and horticultural exporters.


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