China’s focus on Australian farm produce with sanctions likely to backfire because “Australians don’t like being bullied,” a defense expert said.
- Australian industry is gearing up for another $ 6 billion export bans
- Wheat, lobster, wine and wood are among the goods to be targeted
- Defense expert suggests measures against Beijing will backfire
There are expectations that Beijing will ban $ 6 billion worth of exports, including lobster, timber and wheat, as tensions between Australia and China escalate.
Relations between the two countries have deteriorated for years due to a number of political disputes.
This culminated in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s call for an investigation into the origins and early management of COVID-19.
Michael Shoebridge of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said further trade bans are unlikely to force Canberra to surrender.
Shoebridge said China had mistakenly assumed that Australia would favor its economic interests over China over other considerations, including national security.
China’s trade movements “misjudged”
“I think it’s a big misjudgment from Beijing,” said Shoebridge.
“In my opinion, Beijing believes that increasing trade pressures and pressure from certain stakeholders in Australia will force the Australian government to make a 180 degree turn on big issues.
“But I think that is a fundamental misconception because I think what will happen instead is that the example of what Beijing is doing in Australia will influence many other countries’ perception of how they can work with China.
“So I think they will mean that we will rely less on China economically. If we rely less on China economically, their ability to harass and coerce us with economic levers will likely decline. “
Better deal with politics
As Australian industry braced itself for the advertised bans, the country’s grain industry lamented an overly political relationship between Australia and China.
Pat O’Shannassy, managing director of Grain Trade Australia, said he did not want to further fuel tension by blaming one side over the other, but he hoped the federal government could help improve relations.
Mr O’Shannassy said neither side benefited from a trade war, noting that tariffs on Australian barley would cost local industries $ 2.5 billion over five years while depriving Chinese buyers of their preferred product.
He also noted that China had averaged a “significant” 7 percent share of Australian wheat exports over the past five years.
Even so, O’Shannassy said Australian grain producers have exported to more than 100 countries and will “get on with life” regardless of what sanctions Beijing imposed.
The life of the grain farmers will go on
“It increases the uncertainty and the risk,” said O’Shannassy.
“And we saw this risk in the barley situation.
“But the grain industry has been robust over time, and the only thing about our grain exports is that we find our biggest markets for stability in some of the more flaky areas of the world.”
“So it’s not the first time for any industry that we’ve encountered these problems.
“It’s a big problem, but we’ll work it through.”
The China boom was only temporary
The comments were echoed by Mr Shoebridge, who said the boom in Australian agricultural exports to China was a relatively recent phenomenon.
He said Australian producers would remain competitive and profitable in the international market without China.
“Australia’s Chinese market for a number of our goods and services has seen a temporary boom, and it has only been a staggering boom in the last five years,” he said.
“Six years ago, these industries were selling a fraction of what they are now selling in the Chinese market.
“And yet we were pretty profitable in those sectors.
“And it ended because the conditions under which Australians have access to the Chinese market have changed.”
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