Tehan advises sheep industry caution on China

Terry Sim, August 9, 2019

Liberal Member for Wannon Dan Tehan

SHEEP and wool producers were told there will be “serious ups and downs” in Australia’s relationship with China, but also huge opportunities for trade of goods and services.

At the Victorian rural expo Sheepvention in Hamilton this week, Liberal Member for Wannon and Minister for Education Dan Tehan also said China is changing the world order and Australia needed to keep its eyes on other markets.

China is a major and growing sheep meat market for Australia and imports about 80 percent of Australia’s wool production for processing, export sale and domestic consumption.

In giving a series of “take home messages” to the audience at an ANZ Agribusiness lunch, Mr Tehan said Australia, in sending agricultural goods to China, has to be aware of the geo-strategic environment “and the fact that China might try and use that to its competitive advantage.”

“So we need to always make sure that we’ve got our eyes on other markets as well so that our fate is not wholly determined by the Chinese market and then when it comes to what we are sending – ‘clean and green’  absolutely has to be a key part of that,” Mr Tehan said.

“China is changing the global world order and none of us should underestimate the influence that China is having more broadly on the geostrategic environment and the China-US relationship in particular and how it develops and evolves over the next 5-10 years will have a large bearing on what happens in Australia.

“And it is not going to be a straightforward relationship; there are going to be serious ups and downs, and that will impact us right across the board, including the agricultural sector,” he said.

“So will all need to be very aware of that and always have that in the back of our minds with everything we do with China.”

Mr Tehan said there are huge opportunities in the trading of goods and services with China.

“There are huge opportunities for us to go over there and to provide the technology and the knowhow of how proper functioning abattoirs.

“There are huge opportunities for young Australians to go over there and to work within their agricultural sector and bring the knowhow that we have,” he said.

“So in terms of the provisions of services; of Australia providing its huge human capital to teach them and to help them expand and grow their sector is another huge opportunity we’ve got.”


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  1. Andrew Farran, August 9, 2019

    What of substance was there in this statement?

    To paraphrase: with China things could go up or down. They could go high or low. They could be good or bad. China will be important. There will be opportunities. But we should be careful, China could eat us alive. We should look elsewhere if possible (wool?).

    Nothing about how an interdependent relationship should be conducted, at any level. What he doesn’t mention is that the crazy things some government members are saying, based on unfounded assertions and exaggerated fear -mongering, is not helping Australia to navigate skilfully a sensitive and complex relationship. Or that such strident utterances are prejudicial and self-defeating and certainly unhelpful for our trade or the relationship generally.

    Decades ago, the big fear exploited by unthinking or policy unscrupulous governments was ‘reds under the bed’. Now it seems it is ‘reds in the bed’.

    Perhaps Dan Tehan could start with Andrew Hastie, MP.

  2. Peter Small, August 9, 2019

    Interesting take home messages Mr Tehan. I understood it was our ally, the United States, and in particular their President Trump who had set about destroying the “world’s rules-based order,” not China. And isn’t China now a member of the World Trade Organisation, and a compliant member?
    May I suggest Mr Tehan, the downs in the Chinese market for Australia’s exports will be a result of our government’s inability to manage our national interests, rather than the lack of demand by China or the inability of our business leaders to open and supply the market.
    Your government’s challange is to manage our relationship with the White House so that our trading relationships with our northern neighbours, particularly China, is not jeopardised. If you fail, we will soon lurch into poverty, and the US won’t care.

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