In an editorial published late last night, the paper suggested wiping $6.45 billion worth of Australian imports — specifically naming beef and wine as areas worth cutting — in order to “make Australia pay for its arrogant attitudes” towards China.
The newspaper said China’s recent promise to increase US imports meant “replacing Australia” would be easy, but the Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) is not convinced.
“The assertion that’s been made by the Global Times is not reflective of how the market operates,” AMIC chief executive officer Patrick Hutchinson said.
“There are a number of different countries that are putting product into the [Chinese] market, and the market share is shared quite evenly.
“So another entrant into it is not just going to impact one country.”
He said Australia’s market share is currently sitting at about 17 per cent, behind Brazil and Uruguay but ahead of Argentina and New Zealand.
Mr Hutchinson said no country is leading by a great margin, and the US trade agreement is unlikely to change that.
“The entry of the US into the Chinese market will play a part not just for us, but for all who are supplying product,” he said.
“I think it’s a little bit ill-informed to think that just the US coming in would replace Australia on its own, there are many other suppliers.”
Warning a reminder of economic leverage
The editorial was published following a meeting yesterday between Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, on the sidelines of a G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Argentina.
The meeting came during a turbulent period in the bilateral relationship, with Beijing objecting to the Federal Government’s planned foreign interference laws, and Canberra frequently criticising China’s actions in the South China Sea.
Mr Hutchinson said the editorial was a reminder that commentary on other countries’ domestic practices can lead to economic “levers” being pulled.
“While we understand and support as always our Trade Minister and our Foreign Minister, we need to recognise as well that trade is a very important aspect for the Australian economy — and for the agricultural economy for that matter,” he said.
“This is where these things can get caught up, and can impact the whole Australian economy.
“There is great opportunity for the red meat industry in China, and we want to be making sure that our Government is taking all steps to make sure that happens.”
The Global Times last week said Australia’s relationship with China was “among the worst of all Western nations”, and in February described Australia as an “anti-China pioneer”.
In today’s editorial, which is currently the most popular on the paper’s Chinese language site, the paper said punishing Australia economically would “be a good lesson for Australia to learn, while also setting a precedent for other nations to follow”.
“There are no benefits for any country that chooses to take provocative measures against China,” it said.