This week, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud hailed Australia’s thriving relationship with China, calling the latter a “good friend”.
These positive words come as Australia looks to increase its meat exports to China and move on from trade tensions between the two countries, which have been noticeable over the last two years.
Littleproud confirmed on Wednesday that he has been liaising with his specialist agricultural envoys on a bid with China to expand current trade efforts, especially those around imports and exports of meat.
With a 2016 trade agreement already in place between the two nations, the aim is now to see if the agreement can extend and if some rules can relax regarding the trading of meat between the two countries.
In a statement, Littleproud said that he wants to meet his counterparts in China before the end of the year to “demonstrate that we are good friends, and we have a beneficial relationship.”
He made these comments at an agricultural convention for ministers of the G20, which comes at a time when protectionist rhetoric and trade disputes are increasing between China and the United States. This issue is having a knock-on effect, as countries around the world are considering other sources of supplies and wondering how the trade disputes might affect their own import and export processes.
The news of positive talks between China and Australia is therefore an encouraging development. The talks are also a boon considering some of the frostier feelings shared between the two nations in recent years, with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull once leveling accusations of meddling against China.
At the time, Turnbull cited China’s influence as a reason to introduce new laws preventing interference by foreign parties in policy areas. This led China to respond with a lament of what it called a “cold war mentality”.
Australia is currently dealing with some problems at home in relation to exports and trade, with both citrus and wine producers pleading with the government to start improving relations as they suffer from custom delays.
Meat producers have also been struggling with such issues, as some complain that their licenses are experiencing a delay while they try to export meat to China. News of a deliberate effort to circumvent these issues will likely increase their support both at home and abroad.
G20 ministers met with central bank chiefs from across the world to discuss current trade impasses and see if they could find ways to unlock trade efforts. As world tensions over trade between the economic superpowers continue to simmer and boil, all countries appear to be feeling the pinch. Those that produce and export goods are facing this pressure even more as tariffs begin to bite.
Littleproud was effusive in his stance that trade wars serve no purpose in economies that support each other, describing this time as a “key moment for all nations”. Calling for these disputes not to propagate further, he said that trade and tariff wars “do not benefit anyone”. With China finding ways to thaw some key relationships, there may be hope that resolutions are possible.