Today show with Karl Stefanovic

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: Visit to China, Australia-China trade relationship.

Karl Stefanovic, host: Australian exporters holding out for an end to China's devastating trade bans will have to wait a little longer. Trade Minister Don Farrell returning from his visit to Beijing without an immediate breakthrough in the dispute. He joins us now from Canberra.

Don, good morning to you. It was a big trip for you. Our exporters have been crippled by these tariffs for three years now. Any word from Beijing?

Minister for Trade, Don Farrell: Thanks Karl. It was a very, very warm and engaging meeting - a candid meeting with the Trade Minister. We've explained just how much damage these tariffs and other bans have done to our trading relationship, and we've asked for the Chinese Government to lift these bans.

There are some good signs, Karl. Australian cotton is back into Chinese markets, the same with copper. We're well down the track of resolving the dispute over barley, and of course we're going to use the processes that we developed to resolve the barley dispute with wine.

It's incremental. The problems didn't occur overnight, Karl, they won't be resolved overnight. But we've got to persevere and persist and that's my job.

Karl Stefanovic: Yeah, I think you're the perfect man for the job. These negotiations can be pretty tender with the Chinese as you would know only too well. Is there any time frame on some of these industries coming back online?

Minister for Trade: Look, so the barley dispute we expect to be resolved in the next month or two. That's well down the track. All of the information I got from the Ambassador and our officials in Beijing was very, very positive. But we're working through each of the issues.

We've now set up framework through our free trade agreement to deal with all of the outstanding issues and I'm confident to be honest with you, Karl, that if we continue down this track, if we keep building that relationship with the Chinese Government - the Trade Minister has accepted my invitation to come to Australia - I think we're very much heading in the right direction.

We should be confident that as time goes by we will resolve all of these outstanding disputes.

Karl Stefanovic: Don, one of the issues seems to be that we have no control over these decisions and businesses, as you would know, rely on scaling up and down according to that information. Those circumstances are out of our control. How do we move forward, how do they move forward with any degree of certainty?

Minister for Trade: I appreciate just how difficult it is for many of these businesses. I live in the Clare Valley, as you know, and I talk to wine makers, for instance, about some of the problems that they've been suffering.

The direction of the Government has been to try and diversify our trading relationships so that we're not just reliant on one large country. We've recently been to India, we've been to Vietnam, we've been to Philippines. We've now got a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom and we're very, very close to getting a free trade agreement with the European Union.

Karl Stefanovic: Okay.

Minister for Trade: Diversification so that we've got some alternative markets, I think, is really the key.

Karl Stefanovic: The way forward.

Minister for Trade: And that's what we're promoting as a government.

Karl Stefanovic: One final question for you just quickly. How does our upscaling militarily compete with all that that we're trying to do from a trade point of view?

Minister for Trade: National security is the most important job of a Federal Government, and we don't back away from any of the decisions that we've made to secure our national security. But look, can I be honest, Karl, those issues were not raised at any of the meetings that I attended.

Karl Stefanovic: Interesting.

Minister for Trade: We have to make decisions based on our own national interests, and that's what the Albanese Government intends to do, but we'll also press on with resolving our trade issues.

Karl Stefanovic: Sounds promising, Don, appreciate your time today. Thank you.

Minister for Trade: Thank you.

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