In his first major address since arriving in China on Saturday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese emphasized Australia’s dedication to a rules-based international trading system. Addressing an audience that included China’s Premier Li Qiang at Shanghai’s largest international trade event, the Prime Minister stated that both Australia and China have thrived due to the predictability and stability enabled by trade governed by established rules.
The Prime Minister’s comments followed China’s decision to lift its ban on Australian barley exports, a move made in response to the World Trade Organization’s indication of ruling in favor of Australia in a dispute lodged over the 2020 grain export ban. While bans on Australian wine and barley have been lifted since the Albanese Government’s election in May 2022, China has been slow to remove restrictions on the import of lobsters and meat from Australian abattoirs.
Mr. Albanese affirmed Australia’s commitment to fostering free trade and open markets across the globe.
“It’s our commitment to being a positive contributor to the global economic landscape that drives Australia. Much like China, we place great importance on our participation in key forums like the G20, APEC, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. We also hold the World Trade Organization in high regard, recognizing its vital role as an impartial and respected arbiter that benefits all nations,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese stated.
He further emphasized that every country holds a significant role in advancing sustainable and inclusive trade. “These objectives can be realized through our domestic policies and by promoting open and inclusive regional and international structures,” he added.
Mr. Albanese’s speech followed an earlier address by the Chinese Premier at the China International Import Export Expo, where he too voiced support for a rule-based trading system. The two leaders sat together during the event.
China’s official media has taken deliberate steps to temper expectations surrounding the initial visit of an Australian Prime Minister to China since 2016.
In a commentary featured in the Communist Party’s official publication, the People’s Daily, on Saturday, the Prime Minister received accolades for his “independent, rational, and pragmatic” approach to foreign policy, contrasting it with the previous administration, which was characterized as “acting as a pawn in the United States’ geopolitical strategy.”
Referring to the visit as an “ice-breaking move,” the commentary cautioned that “restoring bilateral relations to a stable footing will require more than a single visit.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed his condolences for the firefighters who lost their lives in the Queensland air disaster while arriving at his hotel in Shanghai. After attending a dinner to mark his historic visit as the first Australian leader to China since 2016, the PM stated, “The thoughts of all Australians are with the family, friends, and everyone who knew the courageous firefighters who have tragically passed away.”
He further emphasized the selfless dedication of those in emergency services, acknowledging that they put their lives at risk daily to help their fellow Australians and communities. “Today, our hearts go out to them,” he said.