Why building on 50 years of diplomacy is so important

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
Prime Minister

From Bega and Bundaberg to Beijing, and the Snowy Mountains and South West Sydney to Shanghai.

I was proud to see our iconic cheese, ginger beer, spirits and cereals alongside products more than 250 Aussie businesses are showcasing to the 350,000 visitors to the world's largest trade event at the China International Import Expo.

From Bulla ice cream made in regional Victoria, lobster from Geraldton in WA, Sanitarium products from the NSW Central Coast and Sydney Beer brewed in Surry Hills, Chinese consumers have an insatiable appetite for our premium Aussie products.

This is one of the reasons why stabilising our relationship with China is so important. I'll always stand up for Australia's interests, which is why dialogue is so important - especially in areas where there are differences.

Speaking alongside Premier Li Qiang at the Expo, I reaffirmed that Australians take our place in the Indo-Pacific seriously. Along with the other economies in our region, Australia and China have prospered thanks to the certainty and stability that is made possible by rules-based trade.

Every country has a role to play in advancing trade that is both sustainable and inclusive.

We do that by eliminating unnecessary barriers to trade and investment, by fostering a level playing field and by working towards inclusive economic growth. Hearing from Australian and Chinese CEOs in Shanghai, I know there are many more opportunities for our two nations to work together for our mutual benefit.

China represents almost a third of Australia's trade and, with more than one in four Australian jobs dependent on exports, how we interact with our neighbours has a direct impact on our economy and our prosperity.

My approach to this important relationship has been patient, calibrated and deliberate. And it's paying dividends for Australia, with the removal of impediments impacting exports of some produce, hay, timber and barley, and now a positive pathway for our wine trade.

Between January and August, Australia exported $6bn of these products to China, compared to $85m in the same period last year.

We are, of course, two very different nations, but our people share an appreciation for good products when they see - and taste - them.

That's something we can toast together, as we mark 50 years of diplomatic relations and work to shape the decades ahead.

This opinion piece was first published in The Advertiser on Tuesday, 7 November 2023.