Australia and China talk trade in a time of Trump

Tuesday, 21 March 2017  Media Alerts

“When China's Premier Li Keqiang is in Australia, Down Under can be seen as a reliable trading partner in the Asia Pacific region in contrast to the Trump administration,” says the UNSW Business School’s Tim Harcourt.

Trade will be the forefront of talks when Li Keqiang visits Canberra and Sydney from Wednesday for official talks with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

“The Trans Pacific Partnership - or TPP - was ready to be rolled out, but then President Trump walked away from US involvement. Indeed, as the US leaves the TPP, in some ways Australian and China will be a beneficiary, as China can promote its own pacts like the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and play more of a regional leadership role in term of the region,” says Tim Harcourt, the JW Nevile Fellow of Economics UNSW Business School.

He says “China is by far Australia’s number one trading partner. We have a Free Trade Agreement, support each other in institutions like the WTO, APEC and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and are generally strong partners on the world stage.”

Li Keqiang and wife Madame Cheng Hong will be in Australia until Sunday, and Turnbull has indicated that the leaders will announce the next stage of the China-Australia free trade deal.

“Open trade has been one of the world’s greatest anti-poverty programmes – especially in the Asia Pacific region – with China the classic case in point. In the age of Trump, both China and Australia can fill this vacuum and play a key role in promoting equitably case for globalisation,” he adds.

Cooperation on energy, research, innovation, law enforcement, education, and tourism will also be discussed during their talks.

“Australia’s credentials as a tourist and higher education destination will improve as we will be considered a safe place for international students, who can get a quality education and chance of work will put our institutions at a premium in the age of Trump,” he says. “Both Australia and China have a lot to gain.”

Tim Harcourt was previously chief economist at Austrade. As a trade specialist at UNSW he has studied the international trade landscape for many years, and can comment on all parts of the TPP.

For further comment call Tim Harcourt on 02 9385 3816, 0408 485 479, or tim.harcourt@unsw.edu.au.

Media contact: Julian Lorkin: 02 9385 9887

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