Australian economy must diversify to stave off China-shocks, treasurer says

  • Australia is diversifying its economy to rely less on China, its largest trading partner, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will say on Monday, as he warned the country's businesses to brace for new tensions with Beijing.
  • Australia's relations with China soured after it banned Huawei from its 5G broadband networking in 2018 and cooled further after Canberra called for an independent investigation into the origins of Covid-19.

Australia is diversifying its economy to rely less on China, its largest trading partner, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will say on Monday, as he warned the country's businesses to brace for new tensions with Beijing.

"It is no secret that China has recently sought to target Australia's economy," Frydenberg will say in a speech to a leadership forum at the Australian National University, excerpts of which was seen by Reuters.

Australia's relations with China soured after it banned Huawei from its 5G broadband networking in 2018 and cooled further after Canberra called for an independent investigation into the origins of Covid-19, first reported in China last year.

China responded by imposing tariffs on Australian commodities but despite the diplomatic tensions, Australia exported A$149 billion ($111 billion) worth of goods to China in the 12 months to March, down 0.6% from the previous year.

"They have targeted our agricultural and resources sector, with measures affecting a range of products, including wine, seafood, barley and coal," Frydenberg will say.

Frydenberg will urge the country's businesses to bolster their economic resilience by focusing on other export destinations besides China to "withstand any shocks we may face."

"The world we operate in has fundamentally changed. We face increased strategic competition. This will see our economic and security interests increasingly overlap," he will say.

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