Doorstop, Balgowlah

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: comments about the Australia-China trade relationship and reports about China banning Australian coal.
15 December 2020

Journalist: Okay, [indistinct] just ask. Are our coal exports to China now in peril?

Marise Payne: I think the Trade Minister has made some comments this morning. But if the reports are correct, then that is likely to constitute discriminatory practices against Australia. That would not be in accord with China's trade obligations under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement or, indeed, their international trade obligations. And I know that the Trade Minister and the Government will be pursuing that further.

Journalist: And how about our iron ore [indistinct]?

Marise Payne: Well, similarly, we are dealing with each of these issues – and there are certainly difficulties, there is no question of that – each of these issues on the merits of each case. And the Trade Minister has made clear in relation to a number of other commodities the steps that we will take. Importantly, we are working extremely closely with Australian industry. And I want to acknowledge Australian industry for their engagement with Government, their input and their support in our efforts to work with Chinese agencies and authorities on each of these issues.

Journalist: And what efforts are you making to speak to your counterpart about this worsening situation?

Marise Payne: Well, for ministers in the Government, we are very open, very engaging, and very happy to speak with our counterparts. Those offers have been made consistently. I have been corresponding with my counterpart, State Councillor Wang Yi, this year, having spoken to him earlier in the year in the context of COVID. We’d welcome the opportunity to have a discussion by telephone. But ultimately, that is a matter for our counterparts in China. The Australian Government is more than willing to engage in those conversations and we look forward to the opportunity.

Journalist: And do you think China is treating its major export partner with due respect?

Marise Payne: Well, China's decisions are a matter for them. But what I would say is that we have a very important, Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, which underpins our relationship. We have a very long history of very positive relations. We have had opportunities in the past to work through these issues. And I look forward to being able to do that again with representatives in the Chinese Government.

Journalist: Is there anything in their government or Australia can do to show some [indistinct]?

Marise Payne: Well, I think the Prime Minister said in his remarks last week that he would be very, very open to taking up an opportunity for such a conversation. We have been very consistent, very considered in the engagements that we have made, the comments that we have made, and we look forward to an opportunity to advance on these issues. I would say that our diplomatic representatives in China, the ambassador and senior officials, and of course DFAT representatives in Canberra engage consistently with our counterparts from China. They are very important conversations. They are part of the day-to-day engagement. And we will continue to do that and ensure that that contact is very effective.

Thanks everyone.

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