Doorstop Beijing Capital International Airport, China

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: Visit to Beijing, Australia-China Trade Relations, Joint Ministerial Economic Commission.

Minister for Trade and Tourism, Senator Don Farrell: I'd like to just say a few words and welcome my very good friend, Ambassador Fletcher. It's a great privilege and honour to be here in China today at the invitation of the Chinese Government and my Trade equivalent, Minister Wang.

We're here to continue the process of stabilising our trading relationship with China to the benefit of our two great nations. We started that process in February when I had my first meeting, a virtual meeting, with Minister Wang, where we agreed that dialogue was the best way of progressing our outstanding issues regarding trade. And I think that there's no better way to progress that dialogue than face-to-face meetings, and that's what we'll be doing over the next couple of days.

One of the reasons I'm here, of course, is to co-host the Joint Ministerial Economic Commission with my Trade equivalent and progress a range of trade issues. China continues to be our largest trading nation, our largest trading partner by far. Last financial year, almost $300 billion worth of two-way trade between our two countries. But we can do more, and we can do better.

Since February, we've made progress on a range of products that includes coal, cotton, and other products. And, of course, we're making progress in terms of the issue of barley, but there are outstanding issues that are remaining. And what I'd like to do over the next couple of days is continue that process of stabilising our relationship, and work through a successful pathway for the resolution of all of our outstanding trade differences.

Journalist: What will represent success, in your view, on a major breakthrough?

Trade Minister: The issues didn't occur overnight and they're not going to be resolved overnight. What I'd like to come back to Australia with is a pathway to resolving all of those outstanding issues.

I think, as I said, dialogue, face-to-face dialogue, is the best way to get that progress. And I'm hopeful that with some goodwill that's already been displayed on both sides. Certainly, the products that have been allowed in since February, our concession in respect to barley, all of those, I think, display goodwill.

But more has to be done, and that's what I'd like to see progress on.

Journalist: There are a lot of strategic tensions between the West and China, and Australia and China. Where does Australia's trade agenda sit within that?

Farrell: Our national interest and our national security will always be Labor's most important issue. But there's no reason why we can't progress our national security and our national interest, but also continue our trading relationship, build on that almost $300 billion worth of trade, and stabilise our relationship with China.

Nothing's going to do more to achieve peace in our region than strong trading relationships between Australia and China.

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