China’s Refusal to Engage in Trade Dialogue ‘Deeply Frustrating’

China’s Refusal to Engage in Trade Dialogue ‘Deeply Frustrating’
Senator Simon Birmingham during Senate business at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia on Dec. 7, 2020. (Sam Mooy/Getty Images)
Caden Pearson

Australia’s trade minister has said it is “deeply frustrating” that the Chinese regime refuses to engage with Australia in a dialogue to resolve its trade disputes—and he warned the regime that the business world is watching its behaviour.

The Chinese regime has already slapped sanctions on Australian timber, beef, barley, wine, and other products—with more wine sanctions added on Thursday.

“We respect that China has their policies and processes, as we do,” Trade Minister Simon Birmingham told 3AW on Thursday. But Australia won’t be changing its values or approaches to foreign investment or national security.

“We wouldn’t do that for any country,” he said.

Nine News reported on Thursday that the totalitarian communist regime added more taxes on wine on top of the 200 percent tariffs it recently imposed.

An investigation by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce has concluded that Australia improperly subsidizes wine exports, hurting Chinese producers, Nine News reported.

The trade minister denies this. “We’re going to ... defend the integrity of our exporters and the fact they don’t dump their products, they aren’t subsidised, they’re nothing but high quality, market-oriented producers around the world,” he said.

Birmingham has warned that the business world is watching the trade dispute as the risk of doing business in China rises due to the regime’s actions.

He said the Chinese regime had displayed an unacceptable pattern of behaviour this year that undermined its free trade deal with Australia and flouted global commitments to the World Trade Organisation.

“This is damaging, not just in terms of the business or trade relationship, but it is damaging in terms of heightening the level of risk and concern that businesses right around the world will have in terms of dealing with China,” Birmingham told ABC Radio National on Thursday.

The government he said will continue to defend the integrity of Australian exporters and deny Beijing’s dumping accusations.

“We’ll do that through Chinese processes, we’ll do that through the independent umpire—the World Trade Organisation,” Birmingham said. “And we will keep reinforcing to China that we are willing to come to the table for the dialogue and to try to work through this.”

In the meantime, the federal government will continue to support Australian producers by helping to provide access to other markets; Australia has trade agreements with Japan, Korea, Canada, Mexico, the United States, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

“There’s a range of opportunities for Australian exporters, and of course, we’re pursuing new ones with the European Union, with the UK, and we want to make sure that Australian businesses have grown trade—not just to China, but to many of those other countries in recent years,” Birmingham said.