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Diversifying Trade Relationships Will Buffer Tasmanian Producers from China Shocks

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Friday, 6 November 2020

Tags: Trade, Primary Industries, China, Foreign Influence, Foreign Investment

Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Leader and Primary Industries spokesperson

The Chinese Government’s escalating rhetoric, tariffs and border tactics to block Australian trade are deeply concerning for Tasmanian producers. 

Tasmania’s trade reliance on China has made us extremely vulnerable. It is hurting the State’s producers and exporters, during a global pandemic when they can least afford it.

This situation, sadly, is not surprising. International relations and security experts have repeatedly warned of these tactics, all of which has fallen on deaf ears in the Tasmanian Liberal and Labor parties. 

The State needs to diversity its trading relationships to become less reliant on a regime that has no qualms about using trade bans as punishment against countries it believes have fallen out of line.

While there are travel restrictions in place at present, the Tasmanian Government needs to plan trade delegations to other countries, including Taiwan, India and Malaysia, to tap in to growing markets for quality produce.

There is strong demand for Tasmania’s world class produce, and the State Government should be getting out there exploring all the opportunities, building new trading relationships that will be safer in the long term than continued heavy reliance on China. 

The Labor and Liberal parties have both been silent on the Chinese Government’s human rights record or influence and interference activities in Tasmania. Neither party would support a Greens’ motion to ban impersonation of police vehicles from other jurisdictions in Tasmania, citing the importance of our trade relationship with China. 

That trade-off is now, ultimately, delivering too little. The Chinese Government’s aggressive and punitive trade tactics should serve as a wake-up call to our colleagues in the Liberal and Labor parties. 

We urge the Gutwein Government to prioritise diversifying our trade relationships moving forward.

This must be done quickly, in order to minimise damages to Tasmanian exporters and to provide them with certainty for the future.