Business & Economy

Australia seeks to diversify exports to reduce China dependency

Sydney, Australia, Jun 1 (EFE).- Australia is seeking to diversify its exports to other international markets, including India, to reduce its dependence on China, Trade Minister Don Farrell said Thursday.

“Overreliance on any single trading partner comes with risks,” Farrell said in an address at the National Press Club in Canberra without directly alluding to China, which has imposed tariffs on several Australian products in recent years following multiple political spats, although it has recently begun lifting them.

“A key component of our trade diversification agenda is entering into new and comprehensive free trade agreements,” he added.

Farrell highlighted the entry into force on Wednesday of the free trade agreement with the United Kingdom and another one, in December, with India, which has generated export revenues of about AU$ 10 billion ($6.51 billion) in five months.

He also touched upon initiatives to deepen trade ties with Southeast Asia and the upgrade of a trade agreement between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Australia and New Zealand in August.

“As Minister for Trade and Tourism, I’m working to support industries still recovering from the uncertainty of the pandemic, negotiating new agreements for our producers and exporters around the world, and working to resolve outstanding impediments,” Farrell said, alluding to trade differences with China.

In early 20202, Beijing began to impose import tariffs on several Australian products including barley, lobster, wine and coal, among others, especially after the government of then Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an international inquiry on the origin of Covid-19.

“We’ve learnt valuable lessons over the last few years, and I encourage all Australian businesses to continue with their diversification plans – and take advantage of new and emerging markets,” Farrell said.

With the coming to power of the Labor Party in May last year, ending nine years of conservative rule, Canberra has begun a slow but steady process to diffuse tensions with Beijing, which has led to the lifting of several of the restrictions.

In April, China promised to conduct an “expedited review” of the tariffs on Australian goods, including barley, in exchange for Australia’s temporary suspension of its case with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the measures.

“During my trip to Beijing last month, I co-chaired the first in-person meeting between Australian and Chinese trade ministers since 2019,” the Australian minister said.

“I told my counterpart that we wanted to see all remaining trade impediments removed as soon as possible. We agreed to step up dialogue under our existing free trade agreement and other platforms to resolve these outstanding issues,” he added.

Bilateral trade between Australia and China totaled about AU$287 billion in 2022, according to official data. EFE


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