Australian, Chinese premiers talk free trade benefits, protectionist pitfalls
AUSTRALIAN prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who is in Australia for bilateral talks, have used a series of forums for state and territory leaders and business figures in Sydney to talk up the benefits of free trade and warn against the pitfalls of protectionism.
Mr Turnbull praised the wide trading relationship between the two nations while acknowledging the “reliable, valuable and trusted” partnership could be further improved, reported the Australian Associated Press.
Earlier, Mr Turnbull signed a deal with Mr Li to expand chilled meat market access from 11 firms to all eligible Australian exporters.
He said 96 per cent of Australia’s goods trading in both directions were eligible for preferential access. “The doors of these markets – of our markets to each other – have been opened wider than in any time in our history, but we can and will do more,” Mr Turnbull was quoted as saying.
The Liberal leader reaffirmed a commitment to free trade, open markets and open investment and said both countries understood that protectionism was not a solution.
“Protectionism is not a ladder to get you out of a low growth trap – it’s a big shovel to dig it deeper,” Mr Turnbull said.
Speaking through a translator, Mr Li spoke to a business leaders’ roundtable meeting about a commitment to mutual openness.
He said China had a trade deficit with Australia but would not resort to narrowing imports. “On the contrary, we believe expanding two-way trade will be good for improving the trade balance and let us jointly send out to the world the strong message of upholding free trade,” Mr Li said.
The Chinese leader said the pursuit of free trade needed to include appropriate oversight. “At the end of the day, the products must satisfy the consumers,” he said. “It is my hope that the outcomes of this roundtable meeting will be turned into consensus among the business communities of both countries.”