11 October 2018
Speech - #2018002, 2018

Trade Intervention: G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting, Bali

Firstly, I would like to thank the Government of Indonesia for hosting these meetings. I would like to express our condolences to the people of Indonesia following the terrible tsunami and earthquake in Central Sulawesi. Our prayers are with you.

My predecessor, Scott Morrison, is now the Prime Minister. So clearly he was doing something right. And I know that he found great value in these meetings and I look forward to sharing the discussions with you.

Australia is a trade-exposed country. We are a capital-importing nation. We have the fifth most traded currency in the world. China is our number one trading partner and the United States is our number one investor. We have a real stake in the outcome of the global trading system. We want to see cooler heads prevail.

We think that two things need to be done.

First, we need to reassure the public and the markets that we will not allow these global trade tensions to overshadow the good economic news we heard from Christine Lagarde today. Trade volumes are high. New trade agreements are being signed and the Trans-Pacific Partnership is one of those. We know that free trade works. It adds more jobs, more investment and higher growth. We as a group must reassure the markets and the public that we will not allow these trade tensions to overshadow the good news about the global economy.

The second point is that we need to address the causes of the tensions that we are now seeing playing out. These are long-running issues and there are legitimate concerns that need to be resolved. The G20 should work to strengthen WTO processes so that all parties have confidence in the rules-based trading system and the WTO as a forum for resolving trade differences. If we can make the WTO more relevant to the parties around this table, it will go a long way towards ensuring that these trade tensions do not escalate. That will be in the best interests of not just Australia, but the world.

Thank you.