Ahead of a meeting with President Xi Jinping tonight, Australian Minister Anthony Albanese says it is in his country’s interest to be engaged with China, given the significant trade ties between the two nations
Albanese made the comments after he stopped by the China International Import Expo which showcased the produce of more than 250 Australian companies, including crayfish and beef producers.
The prime minister said he was looking forward to constructive discussions with Xi after recent concessions made by China in relation to the importation of Australian barley.
“There are promising signs,” Albanese said.
“We’ve already seen a number of the impediments to trade between our two nations removed and an uplift already, substantial uplift, in the trade between our two nations…
“Barley already restarting, barley arriving here, making a difference.
“What that means is Australian jobs.”
Albanese is the first Australian leader to set foot in China in seven years, a sign of the thawing relations between the countries
Since he became a prime minister, Albanese had demanded that China immediately lift what he described as “unjustified” official and unofficial trade barriers costing Australian exporters $20 billion a year.
Those barriers have since been substantially reduced and now cost about $2 billion.
Describing China as Australia’s most important trading partner, Albanese said it was crucial to remain engaged with the Asian superpower, just as it was to remain engaged with the United States.
“Yesterday [at a trade fair in Shanghai] I was with 250 Australian businesses,” he said.
“That’s about Australian jobs. That has an impact on our economy.
“That has an impact on inflation and how successful we are.
“We are a trading nation. This is very much in Australia’s national interest for us to be engaged just as it was in Australia’s national interest for me to be engaged in the United States.”
Also on the agenda when the two leaders meet tonight will be human rights issues, with Albanese promising earlier to bring up the jailing of Australian pro-democracy blogger Yang Hengjun, who has been detained in China without conviction for almost five years.