Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham

'Australia should plan respectfully for trade tensions with China'

According to Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, the nation’s agricultural sector should not expect a speedy resolution of the delicate trade and geopolitical tensions with its important customer, China. Therefore, Birmingham urged agribusinesses and exporters to assess their own potential exposure to any possible arbitrary policy risks from Beijing, and "potentially look elsewhere to develop markets" if they felt the need.

Australia had enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial relationship with global economic powerhouses China and the USA. It was a keen supporter of Chinese economic growth and the trade benefits.

Unfortunately, recent "assertive" Chinese behaviour had created new pressure points, and revived some old ones, for the $13 billion Chinese agricultural market. While Australia would not deviate from its values and policies and from "protecting our interests", Australians still respected China's role as our biggest trade partner and a strong regional economic partner.

"Australia must stay true to our goals while acting to protect our interests and our security," Senator Birmingham told "Our intention is to engage (with China) and assist our respective interests as much as we can."

He acknowledged that Australia's position in the Asia-Pacific and trade loyalty to two different economic powers presented new challenges and lingering tensions which farmers and agribusinesses were feeling first hand.

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