New Australian Trade Minister Dan tehan said in an interview on the 23rd that he had written to senior Chinese officials in the hope of providing an opportunity to break the current deadlock, ABC reported on the 24th.
There is speculation that tehan’s letter to senior Chinese officials may try to repair the relationship with China, the largest trading partner. However, in an interview with the global times on the 24th, a Chinese scholar said that judging from the recent development of Sino Australian relations, Australia’s move may only be based on economic interests, rather than fundamentally improving bilateral relations.
Acting at home and abroad?
Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald said on the 23rd that tehan, who took office in December last year, revealed that he had written a letter to senior Chinese officials, hoping to re-establish dialogue channels and resolve bilateral trade disputes. Tehan did not say whether he urged China to stop the import ban on Australian goods in the letter. However, he specifically mentioned the issue of coal exports to China. He said the Australian federal government wants China to lift the ban on its coal imports. The crew of dozens of coal carriers are still trapped in the port. Considering the commercial arrangement and the well-being of the crew, he hopes to solve this problem as soon as possible. Tehan also claimed that the government focused on bilateral settlement of the coal dispute, but did not rule out filing a lawsuit with the WTO in the future.
Prior to his transition to minister of trade, tehan served as Minister of education in the Morrison administration. During his term of office, he set up an anti foreign interference task force to review the cooperation between universities and foreign countries, which some media believe is aimed at China. However, when he becomes trade minister, he may be more cautious in his attitude towards China. But this is not the first time that the Morrison administration has asked China for dialogue on the Sino Australian trade dispute. According to Australian media reports, since China imposed an anti-dumping duty on Australian barley exports, a number of cabinet ministers, including former trade minister Birmingham, have made calls, but they were rejected by China.
China has repeatedly made it clear that Australia has always been biased against China and regarded China’s development as a threat, which is the root cause of the deterioration of Sino Australian trade relations. However, the Morrison government does not want to look at this issue from the perspective of Sino Australian relations. It just wants to solve the trade dispute between the two sides technically. At present, tehan’s request for dialogue does not go beyond this scope.
Yu Lei, chief researcher of the Pacific Islands research center of Shandong Liaocheng University, told the global times on the 24th that the reason why the newly appointed Australian trade minister made the above move is that first of all, he wanted to take the initiative in politics and fight for the dominant voice in the world public opinion field; second, he showed the attitude of striving for the well-being of relevant practitioners in Australia, and then took the responsibility Ren Tui said to China, “this may be acting for domestic and foreign audiences to win public support.”.
Added value of Australian products exports dropped sharply
As relations between the two countries worsened, Australia and China were caught in a number of trade disputes, ABC said. Australia’s wine and barley have been subject to China’s anti-dumping and countervailing sanctions. Australia’s exports of lobster, beef, cotton and timber have also been delayed in customs clearance and embargoed for various reasons.
China will impose a “ban” on Australian exports worth more than 20 billion Australian dollars (about 100 billion yuan) in 2020, the Australian said. Thanks to the soaring price of iron ore, Australia’s exports to China suffered less than expected. In 2020, the value of Australia’s exports to China was a $148 billion, a decrease of a $6 billion or about 4% compared with that in 2019.
But Australia’s gains in commodities such as iron ore cannot make up for the losses of other industries. Although Morrison government encouraged Australian enterprises to diversify their exports from China to other markets, it also led to a sharp decline in the export value-added of some Australian products. Local media reported that after China’s anti-dumping investigation, Australian barley was being sold at a discount price for lamb feed in Saudi Arabia and livestock feed in other markets, rather than Qingdao beer and other Chinese breweries, which greatly reduced the premium of Australian barley. In addition, wine, lobster industry also suffered a similar impact.
Local public opinion generally believes that Australia’s export prospects in 2021 are unclear if it cannot repair relations with China. Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported that if a comprehensive trade war breaks out between China and Australia, according to the modeling data of Australian economists, if the trade between the two countries is reduced by 95%, Australia’s GDP will lose 6%. In 2019, the country’s GDP will be $1.4 trillion, so Australia will lose $84 billion.
Australian Trade Minister wants to talk with China
There is no better market than China
Australia’s “dialogue” website said that US President Biden’s coming to power may bring a turn for the better in Sino Australian relations. Australia wants to find a market to replace China, but it will not find a better economy than China in the foreseeable future. China’s economy is gradually recovering from the impact of the epidemic. According to the prediction of the International Monetary Fund, China’s economic growth this year will account for 1 / 4 of the global growth. China and Australia signed the regional comprehensive economic partnership agreement (RCEP). The purpose of RCEP is to further realize trade liberalization in the Asia Pacific region. This agreement provides an opportunity for Australia China relations to restart.
Yu radium said that many Australian scholars said that trump had stepped down, but “trumpism” remained in Australia. Since the new US President Biden came to power, many policies have not been implemented and the situation is not clear. Australia’s tentative move now has several considerations: first, the United States has changed its leadership, and Australia wants to explore China’s style in its China policy first; second, the economic consideration is “semi decoupling”, so long as the Chinese market does not want Chinese investment, it also needs to reduce the import of Chinese goods. Yu Lei said that if Australia really wants to change the economic and trade relations between the two countries, it also needs to see whether the ban on investment in China is lifted. It can not only ask China to lift the ban unilaterally.
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