Australia wants exporters to diversify their markets and become less dependent on China because economic and strategic ties cannot be separated, Foreign Secretary Benny Wong said, a day after the trading partners outlined a path to ending a dispute.
The two countries have reached a consensus to end their dispute over barley, with Australia suspending a case at the World Trade Organization on Tuesday, while China is leading a review of tariffs on Australian exports.
“Ensuring that we diversify our export markets is an important part of our national resilience,” Wong said in a televised interview with Sky News on Wednesday.
“The government will continue to encourage that as we want to ensure diversified export markets.”
Trade with Australia’s main trading partner in both directions is worth $285 billion a year, while Beijing is leading Beijing to change restrictions on export limits for Australian goods in 2020 amid a diplomatic row.
However, Wong said in media interviews that it was important to recognize that the relationship between the two countries “is not going to go back to where we were 15 years ago.”
“We know we want a more stable relationship with China, but we know we cannot keep our economic and strategic relationship separate,” he told the Nine’s Today Show.
With China acting as a “great power in the world”, it was inevitable that there would be areas where Australia and China did not have the same interests, he added.
Wong called China’s recent military exercises around Taiwan “destabilizing”, adding: “We insist on de-escalation”.
“Australia’s position is very clear: there is no unilateral change to the status quo,” he told Sky News.
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