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Trade Minister defends Matt Canavan amid concerns he inflamed China trade tensions

Joe Hildebrand
Article image for Trade Minister defends Matt Canavan amid concerns he inflamed China trade tensions

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham has denied Matt Canavan’s comments spurred a retaliation from China.

Speculation has arisen that China’s latest move was a response to Matt Canavan’s suggestion to place tariffs on iron ore exported to China.

“Nothing else really has changed … either this coal ban has come from nowhere or it’s in retaliation to suggestions that we might turn the tap off or jack the price up of iron ore,” Joe Hildebrand said on Afternoons.

But Mr Birmingham stated issues in relation to Australia’s coal had been ‘apparent for a while now’ and the two events are unlikely to be related.

“We’ve had reports of dozens of shipments of Australian coal stuck off the coastline of China, waiting to be unloaded in those different ports,” he said.

“It’s not a new issue, necessarily.”

Mr Birmingham made it clear Australia is unlikely to introduce tariffs on iron ore at this time, but rather, an appeal will be made to the World Trade Organisation.

“The problem with propositions that we would respond to these types of actions by just whacking our own tariffs on different products is we then start to tear up that rulebook,” he said.

“As a mid-sized economy, if we simply walk away from all of those rules, it threatens very much a ‘might is right approach’ applying all of the time everywhere.”

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Joe Hildebrand
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