Australia has called on G7 nations to support reform of the World Trade Organization, arguing it is the best way to stop Beijing’s campaign of economic coercion against Canberra and fend off Chinese competition. in the Indian Ocean region.
Scott Morrison also supported President Joe Biden’s assessment of intelligence on the origins of Covid-19 and warned that democracies must cooperate more closely than at any time since the Cold War because of the risk of conflict. The conflict with China is increasing.
“Accelerating trends are working against our interests,” Morrison said during his speech to the G7 in the UK this weekend. “The Indian Ocean region – the region of Australia – is at the heart of a new strategic competition. The risks of miscalculation and conflict are growing.”
Canberra wants the G7 nations to agree to WTO reforms that will allow the appeals body at the heart of their decision-making to continue to function. Washington has blocked Appellate Body appointments since Donald Trump was elected president due to concerns about possible judicial overreach, a move that allows countries to avoid complying with the WTO ruling. effective.
The paralysis of the WTO dispute settlement mechanism comes at a difficult time for Australia. Canberra has referred China to the WTO for imposition punitive tariffs for barley and is preparing to do the same with tariffs on wine.
“The most practical way to address economic coercion is to restore the binding dispute settlement system of the global trade body. In places where there are no consequences for compulsive behavior, there is little incentive to refrain,” says Morrison.
He said like-minded nations should draw inspiration from the years immediately following the second world war and work together to uphold an open, rules-based system that allows free democracies to flourish without interference. to force.
Australia and China are entangled in an acrimonious diplomacy dispute following Canberra’s call for an investigation into the origins of Covid-19 last year. That has prompted Beijing to impose tariffs and other restrictions on billions of dollars of Australian imports in what analysts have labeled a campaign of economic coercion.
Morrison has been invited to the G7 by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson along with the leaders of India, South Africa and South Korea, in a move that analysts say has shown support for Australia in the dispute. with China.
“G7 leaders know that if they don’t work collectively to challenge China, they will all be coerced individually by Mr. Xi’s China and they will not be able to rein in increasingly aggressive international behaviour. of Beijing – on trade, territory, security, technology and key values like human rights,” said Michael Shoebridge, an analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
The conservative government’s tough message towards China follows criticism from the opposition Labor Party, which last week accused it of using “nationalist sentiment” language for political purposes. domestic political purposes. Business circles have also expressed concern over growing tensions with China, Australia’s largest trading partner.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said: “Australia needs more strategy and less politics when it comes to managing our differences with China. “But foreign policy is not a game. It is not a photo op. It is a serious business with profound economic and security implications.”