By Martine Haley
TASMANIA’S strong export relationships and premium offerings have seen the agriculture and viticulture sectors pivot despite Chinese boycotts.
Visiting Tasmania this week, Federal Finance Minister and former Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said despite the “speed bumps’’ Australian farmers had found new and growing markets to compensate for China’s bans.
Speaking at Pooley’s Wine at Richmond, Senator Birmingham said Australian farmers and particularly with those premium offerings out of Tasmania will continue to have a very high level of confidence.
“Australia’s fundamentals are something very few countries in the world can offer, particularly when visiting wineries like this which are pursuing natural-based methods of production, pristine environments, that offer some of the highest quality products to the world with really strong value propositions around their environmental credentials, their quality of product and its recognition,’’ Senator Birmingham said.
“Those things will overcome almost any other challenge that is put in place. “We have seen just how well some sectors have been able to pivot in relations to the challenges imposed by China.
“Our barley industry has sent shipments to Mexico for the first time, we have see significant growth in the Middle East, our live seafood trade has seen a return of growth in Hong Kong, Vietnam and it shows, yes, there may be difficulties that occur in one part of the world, but the opportunities to pivot elsewhere are quite strong. “Clearly we want to have as many trade offerings as possible.
That’s why as a Government we pursued trade agreement not just with China, but with Korea, Japan with Indonesia and with the UK and the regional groupings through the Trans Pacific Partnership and across South-East Asia which are giving our exporters maximum choices and opportunities.’’
In response to France raising concerns within the European Union about trade with Australia in reaction to the cancellation of the Federal submarine contract, Senator Birmingham said the EU was a partnership of 27 member states.
“When you talk to exporters like Pooley’s Wines here who sell the vast majority of their wine within Australia, but then have niche offerings into the UK and certain parts of Europe which have been built over years, it’s those relationships which ultimately deliver sales.”
Senator Birmingham said China’s refusal to discuss its boycott with the Australian Government was “deeply frustrating’’.
“We have been steady and consistent in our view that governments should have dialogue and that is the best way to work through differences and its one of the deeply frustrating things about China’s response that the first thing they shut down is dialogue and it becomes harder for parties to work through their differences.
”While in Tasmania, Senator Birmingham also met with businesses to discuss options out of the Federal Budget.
“Its been a challenging two years, its pleasing the economic supports have helped sustain business, and many have pivoted to survive,’’ he said.