Where is the NSW Government plan to deal with China trade disruption?

10 December 2020

Labor is calling on the Government to immediately brief New South Wales exporters on its plan to deal with the escalating disruption to trade relations with China.

China is the State’s top trading partner  and according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, NSW merchandise exports to China were worth $8.3 billion in the 12 months to October. The state's major exports include coal and beef.
 
The State’s vulnerability to escalating trade tensions could also spill over into the services economy, where international education pre-COVID was worth $12.18 billion to the economy and supported 95,692 jobs.
 
At a time when other State jurisdictions, including Victoria have been in talks with the Australian Government about the trade relations disruption, the NSW Government appears unconcerned about the challenges facing local exporters.
 
The Victorian Trade Minister, Martin Pakula, told the Victorian Parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee last week that he had personal discussions with the Federal Minister for Trade, Senator Simon Birmingham, and the Chinese Consul General in Victoria to convey the Victorian Government’s concerns over the trade disruptions.
 
To date NSW exporters have heard nothing similar from the Deputy Premier and Minister for Industry and Trade, John Barilaro.
 
In recent months Australian trade exports of wine, lobster, timber and coal have been subject to a Chinese ‘import suspension’.
 
The Shadow Minister for Industry and Trade Mick Veitch said: “Our exporters deserve to know what the NSW Government has been doing and that it has a well-crafted plan to deal with these Chinese ‘import suspensions’, which some experts estimate could last for at least another two years.
 
“John Barilaro seems to wear many hats in this Government but our exporters need to hear more about his trade and industry responsibilities and a little less about his war with his Liberal colleagues.”
 
The Shadow Minister for Natural Resources, Paul Scully, directed a range of Parliamentary written questions to the Deputy Premier last month about what the NSW Government is doing to about trade tensions with China and New South Wales’ coal exports.
 
The Deputy Premier told Mr Scully:
 
Official approaches to the Chinese Government on trade would be a matter for the Commonwealth Government.
 
Mr Scully said: “If the Victorian Trade Minister can pick up the phone to the Federal Minister and the Chinese Consul General to express Victorian exporter’s concerns at these escalating trade tensions, John Barilaro needs to tell us that he has done the same thing on behalf of New South Wales exporters.
 
“Sitting back and doing nothing - hoping the problem will go away - puts regional jobs and the economic recovery at risk.”