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Victoria

Event Recap - Changes to US/China Trade Policy and Opportunities for Australian Businesses

16 August 2017

On 16 August, ACBC Victoria in partnership with AmCham hosted a panel discussion centred on changes to US/China trade policy under the new American administration and implications for Australia and Australian businesses. 80 guests joined our moderator and two expert speakers at Corrs Chambers Westgarth in Melbourne to hear numerous insights throughout a wide-ranging panel discussion and Q&A session.

Following an introduction from Mr Ray Doyle, General Manager of AmCham in Victoria, panel moderator Ms Bronwyn Lincoln, Partner at Corrs Chambers Westgarth and international arbitrator, welcomed our two panellists; Ms Laura Mattiazzi, Head of Asia Business Development for the NAB Agribusiness Asia Desk; and Associate Professor Timothy Lynch, Director of the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor of American Politics at the University of Melbourne.

Initial discussion focused on the possibility of a trade war breaking out between China and the US. Tim stressed that despite the hard-line rhetoric from President Trump, it is important to understand that public statements and actual diplomatic practice between the two countries are not necessarily synonymous. Trump’s ‘America First’ line seeks to appeal to his base and to cater to domestic concerns. Laura added that a trade war is unlikely as both the US and China have vested interests in the success of the respective economies.

The engaging panel discussion continued, covering various topics such as the economic impact of a potential trade war, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, globalisation, the trade deficit between the US and China, Chinese holdings of US treasury bonds, steps that Australia can take in the face of our evolving economic and strategic environment, the ways in which the US and China have been cooperating, and many more.

Laura’s concluding remarks focused on the importance of leadership. Whether this means trying to maintain, contain or pursue a leadership position, this is earned and not given. Australia also has the potential to positively influence the situation and help reconcile US/China trade issues. Tim finished by repeating the distinction between rhetoric and diplomacy.

ACBC Victoria CEO, Ms Virginia Birrell closed the proceedings. We would like to warmly thank Corrs Chambers Westgarth for generously hosting the event. We also extend our thanks to AmCham for partnering with us for the event.

Finally, ACBC Victoria kindly thanks our panel moderator for her insightful and probing questions, as well as our panellists for providing their experience and perspectives.