expert unpacks complementary PRC-Australia trade

context: The PRC and Australia have strong ties in trade, most notably in the energy and minerals export sector, where Australia is dependent on its biggest trading partner. As relations warm between the two countries, Beijing will be keen to appeal to Canberra about the economic benefits of closer trade relations.

The PRC and Australia are highly complementary in trade due to mutual interests, contends Chen Hong 陈弘 East China Normal University Australian Studies Centre director. Chen cites how even during tense relations between the countries two years ago, iron ore trade remained robust despite soaring prices.

Chen offers further observations in

  • PRC-Australia trade cooperation
    • despite some critical rhetoric, Anthony Albanese Australia Prime Minister wants to improve PRC-Australia relations
    • Australia has not made many movements aligning with the US in decoupling from the PRC
      • Albanese mentioned that Australia will not oppose the PRC's CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) bid
  • critical minerals
    • the term 'critical minerals' was created by the US to target the PRC
      • a mineral is only considered 'critical' if it helps PRC economic and tech development
    • Australia currently exports 95 and 70 percent of its lithium and iron ore to the PRC respectively
      • despite the US seeking to persuade Australia to decouple from the PRC, it will be very difficult for Australia to 
        • find new markets to substitute the PRC in energy and minerals
        • develop its own refineries, as it requires a lot of supporting facilities, time and investment
  • green energy
    • Australia faces a problem in meeting energy transition targets because it does not have nuclear plants
    • there are ample opportunities to cooperate with the PRC in this area because given its geography, Australia has great potential in developing solar and wind energy
      • the PRC has advanced PV (photovoltaic) industries and wind power technology
  • security
    • the PRC-Australia trade route often passes by the South China Sea
      • the two countries have common interests to defend peace and stability in the region