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Australia to oppose China’s bid to join trade pact until it halts strikes against exports
Trade minister Dan Tehan wants Beijing to resume high-level dialogue with Australia
The trade minister, Dan Tehan, says Australia will oppose China’s bid to join a key trade pact until it halts trade strikes against Australian exports and resumes minister-to-minister contacts with the Morrison government.
China on Thursday formally applied to join the world’s biggest trading agreement – the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
But it will require the unanimous support of all the pact’s members to be admitted.
The CPTPP was signed by 11 countries including Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan and New Zealand in 2018.
Tehan said China could not join until it convinced members of its “track record of compliance” with existing trade agreements and Word Trade Organisation commitments.
That was a process that would require Beijing to resume high-level dialogue with Australia, he told News Corp.
Australia has lodged disputes against China in the WTO on restrictions on exports of barley and wine imposed by Beijing.
“CPTPP parties would also want to be confident that an accession candidate would fully implement its commitments under the agreement in good faith,” Tehan said.
“As we have conveyed to China, these are important matters which require ministerial engagement.”
On Friday, Australia dismissed “outbursts” from China over Australia’s decision to develop nuclear-powered submarines after the announcement of a new security pact with the US and the UK.
The deal has resulted in Australia tearing up its $90bn contract with France for diesel submarines, and will instead see the US and the UK share sensitive technology with Australia to let it develop its first nuclear-powered submarines.
The Chinese government said the “extremely irresponsible” deal would seriously undermine regional peace and stability, while the nationalistic tabloid the Global Times carried an editorial warning Australia not to act provocatively or China would “certainly punish it with no mercy”.
The Australian defence minister, Peter Dutton, dismissed the reaction from Beijing.
“This is not the first time that we’ve seen different outbursts from China in terms of Australia’s position,” he said.
“We are a proud democracy in our region. We stand with our neighbours in the Indo-Pacific to ensure enduring peace and this collaboration makes it a safer region. That’s the reality and no amount of propaganda can dismiss the facts.”
France has recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia for consultations sparked by the “exceptional seriousness” of Canberra’s surprise decision to cancel the order for French-built submarines and its security pact with Washington and London.
The French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said the order to bring the ambassadors back to Paris “immediately” was made at the request of the French president, Emmanuel Macron.