Global trade rules are “no longer fit for purpose” and must be changed to accommodate China’s new status as a developed economy, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a major foreign policy speech in the United States.
The global community had engaged with China to help it grow but now must demand the world’s second-largest economy bring more transparency to its trade relationships and take a greater share of the responsibility for addressing climate change, Morrison said.
“The world’s global institutions must adjust their settings for China, in recognition of this new status,” said Morrison in a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, referring to China as a “newly developed economy.”
“That means more will be expected of course, as has always been the case for nations like the United States who’ve always had this standing,” he said.
Global trade rules were “no longer fit for purpose” and in some cases were “designed for a completely different economy in another era, one that simply doesn’t exist any more,” he added.
“There’s some serious [trade] issues which have to be addressed,” Morrison said. “Issues which once addressed will also benefit Australia. Issues on forced technology transfer affect Australian companies too. IP issues affect Australian companies too.
“And there are global responsibilities on the environment and the other things which Australia is very invested in and everybody needs to pull their weight on that so with great economic power comes great responsibility and we need to step up and gear change,” he said, making reference to the environmental issues of oceans, climate, illegal fishing, and plastics pollution.
Referring to China as a newly developed economy marks a change from Beijing’s self-declared status as a developing economy, which affords it concessions such as longer times to implement agreed commitments, according to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
It also puts Australia into line with a campaign led by U.S. President Donald Trump to remove China’s developing nation status. In an April 7, 2018 tweet, Trump wrote that China was a “great economic power” but received “tremendous perks and advantages, especially over the U.S.”
Morrison has previously urged China to reform its economy and end a trade war with the United States but had, until now stopped short of taking a public position on its WTO status.
“We should remember that it was 75 years ago—at Bretton Woods—that the United States led the way in the creation of financial institutions and economic forums that established equitable rules to stabilize the international economy and remove the points of friction that had contributed to two world wars,” Morrison said.
While two-way trade between Australia and China has grown since the countries signed a trade pact in 2015, increasing to a record A$183 billion ($127 billion) last year, the bilateral relationship has at times been strained.
In December 2017, former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull accused China of meddling in its domestic affairs. The relationship was further soured by Canberra’s decision last year to effectively ban Chinese telecoms firm Huawei Technologies from its 5G broadband network rollout.
Morrison said Australia and the United States had different relationships with China, given Australia had a trade surplus with China while the United States had a trade deficit.
“The engagement with China has been enormously beneficial to our country,” he said. “We want to see that continue.”
By Byron Kaye. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.