Saturday 6th of June 2020

Trade deal

Trade deal

Split responsibilities

Transcript extracts from Lateline ABC... MARK VAILE: I have not seen those reports and what I was about to say in answer to the second part of your question is that as Australia's Trade Minister and an economic minister, my interaction with my counterparts in China is on the economic front. The responsibilities in terms of human rights and our position and our candid views on that are the responsibility of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and I'm sure that he does regularly make contact and comment to his counterparts in China on those issues. My important responsibility is to ensure that our nation, our economy takes advantage of what is taking place in the growth and growth of China, its industrialisation, the way that is affecting the global economy and particularly how we can take great advantage of that for the future of our economy in Australia. TONY JONES: But you appreciate how trade and human rights issues are all bound up together now. Is the case of the defecting Chinese diplomat Chen Yonglin creating tensions between Australia and China? MARK VAILE: It certainly hasn't become apparent to me at all on that front. I had in the margins of the APEC ministerial meeting in Korea in recent weeks a number of conversations with my counterpart Minister Borshi Li. That certainly wasn't raised either way. We have a very, very important challenge in front of us and that is negotiating a free trade agreement between our two countries. In answer to your question at that point, that hasn't been raised and I go to China again in two weeks' time to a very important ministerial meeting of the WTO where I'll see a number of our Chinese counterparts there again. TONY JONES: We spoke on this program last night to a former senior Pentagon official Dan Blumenthal and he was Defence's senior country director for China until late last year and he told us that Washington is closely watching this Chen case and if Mr Chen was sent back to China it would be interpreted by the US as China calling in its chips on trade, that is. Does that US perception worry you?

Doug in china shop

Doug sees mammoth robotised factories in China, so has decided to step into the Trade portfolio that was selflessly relinquished by Simon, until Kevin gets up to speed on trading with China.

During a short press tour of the factory, it was apparent that Honda had invested in robots where they were needed for quality and safety reasons, in the welding of the automobile bodies. But the factory otherwise relied heavily on very cheap manual labor, with workers pushing carts bearing partly completed bodies and auto parts in places where a larger factory in a Western country would probably have a conveyor belt instead.

Doug will square up onto Mark Vaile. Mr Vaile seems as honest as an auctioneer could be, is intelligent and determined, and isn't likely to hide his weaknesses behind a facade of religiosity. He will, of course, in the best traditions, cover up rorts and incompetence with bovine byproduct. Doug can it lay on with a trowel, with the best of them.

Doug, himself, prefers the lofty disdain conferred by a Range Rover, but is always happy to see neighbours tootling about in Heye-undeyes, Daywoos and Keye-ahs. Cheap Chinese Hondas will be welcome in Oz. A small price to pay for harmonious community behaviour.