Australia is determined to forge a more diverse trading relationship with China while maintaining a steady flow of trade, according to Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell. During the G7 trade ministers’ meeting in Osaka, Japan, Farrell expressed the intention to stabilize and broaden the bilateral relationship with China. This, however, does not entail reducing trade with China but rather expanding trade with countries that have existing free trade agreements with Australia, particularly within the European Union (EU) bloc. As of now, Australia has established agreements with over 20 countries and aims to negotiate additional ones.
In an attempt to mitigate the impact of diplomatic tensions, Australia has been engaging in dialogues with China, its largest trading partner. One pressing issue is the import tariffs on Australian wine, which were introduced in March 2021. Farrell disclosed that negotiations are underway to persuade China to eliminate these tariffs. Last year, China imposed import tariffs on various Australian exports, including wine, red meat, lobsters, and timber. However, in August, Beijing finally lifted the tariffs on Australian barley imports, which amounted to approximately 1.5 billion Australian dollars ($988.1 million).
Determined to restore a sense of optimism, Farrell expressed confidence in Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s upcoming visit to China. This visit, scheduled from November 4 to November 7, will be the first by an Australian prime minister since 2016. Farrell anticipates that Albanese’s trip will be successful and contribute to the enhancement of bilateral ties between the two nations.
Steady Growth in Trading Relations with Taiwan
Regarding Australia’s trading relations with Taiwan, Farrell affirmed that both parties maintain a robust trading relationship. He emphasized that, under the Albanese government, Taiwan will continue to be one of Australia’s significant customers, and the trade between the two nations will continue to thrive. Farrell pointed out that wine sales from Australia to Taiwan have been increasing, and Taiwan ranked as Australia’s fifth largest merchandise export market from 2021 to 2022.
Despite the collapse of negotiations for a free trade agreement between Australia and the EU, Farrell highlighted Australia’s keen interest in reaching an agreement with the European Union. However, he emphasized that Australia is not willing to settle for just any agreement, as access to European agricultural markets for Australian goods has been a contentious issue. The pursuit of an agreement with the EU showcases Australia’s commitment to diversifying its trading relationships globally.
Overall, Australia’s objective is to establish a more diversified and stable trading landscape while preserving its trade ties with China. By expanding its trade agreements with countries in the EU, engaging in ongoing dialogues with China, fostering strong relations with Taiwan, and actively seeking an agreement with the EU, Australia is taking proactive steps to navigate the complexities of the global trading environment. These efforts reflect Australia’s adaptability and readiness to seize new opportunities for economic growth and sustainable trade partnerships.