Australian treasurer calls for calm on US-China trade war


Australia is calling for calm as the trade war between Washington and Beijing rages on, appearing like there’s no end in sight.

“From Australia’s perspective, given that China is our number one trading partner, and the United States is our number one investor, we want cool heads to prevail, ” said Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

China is Australia’s largest export market, accounting for more than 30% of its exports in 2018, data from the Australian government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade showed.

Speaking at the G-20 Summit and Ministerial Meetings in Japan over the weekend, Frydenberg acknowledged that there were “some legitimate issues that are at play here between the United States and China.”

“But overall,” he added, “the tensions are weighing on the global economic outlook.”

The Australian treasurer’s comments came ahead of an expected meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the upcoming G-20 summit meeting in late June.

Negotiations between the two economic powerhouses hit an impasse in May, as both side ramped up the rhetoric and increased tariffs on each other’s goods, prolonging a trade dispute that started last year. Already, the ongoing tension between the world’s two largest economies has rocked markets across the world and increased concerns over the global economic outlook.

On the impact of trade tensions on Australia’s economy, Frydenberg said: “Actually we have a pretty diversified economy, more than 70% of our economy is services and we are really capitalizing on the growth in Asia with larger fintech (financial technology) sectors, tourism, education, these are real growth areas for the Australian economy.”

But thanks to Australia’s rich resources – whether it’s iron ore or coal, metallurgical and thermal or gold – “we benefit greatly from the exports … into the region,” he added.

“But Australia’s in its 28th consecutive year of economic growth, that’s a record that hasn’t been matched by other developed nations. We got through the Asian financial crisis, the dotcom boom and bust, and the GFC (global financial crisis), and our economy continues to grow,” Frydenberg said.

“But we’re not complacent, we recognize the challenges that we face internationally with trade tensions, but also domestically with drought and flood and the impact that that’s had on our farm GDP.”