Australia’s trade minister has extended an olive branch to China, suggesting a “compromise situation” or “alternative way” to settle trade disputes might emerge in talks between the two countries. Don Farrell made the comments in a recent interview, speaking about “positive signs” in Australia’s relationship with China, including the foreign minister, Penny Wong.
Farrell has asked to meet his counterpart, Wang Wentao, but was unable to do so when both attended the World Trade Organization meeting in June. Farrell said the offer to “sit down any time” remained open.
Australia has complained about China’s trade sanctions against a range of exports including meat, crayfish, timber and coal and is currently pursuing trade disputes in the WTO over anti-dumping tariffs on Australian wine and barley. Wong has vowed to take every opportunity to demand the Chinese government scrap “unjustified trade strikes”. But Farrell struck a more conciliatory note.
“So, at the moment the plan is to proceed with those [disputes],” he said. “Obviously if the opportunity arises to have a different set of discussions, whereby we can nut out a compromise situation – then I’d be fully supportive of going down that track. At the moment it’s the WTO process, that’s the proper way that these issues should be determined. “But, if an alternative way emerges, then we’ll certainly be happy to look at that.”