Hong Kong (CNN Business) Tensions between China and Australia have taken a $4 billion toll on the important trading partnership, but Canberra says its economy has proven "remarkably resilient" as other countries moved to fill in the gaps.
Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Monday claimed the Chinese government has failed to seriously impact the country's economy through a series of punitive measures on exports. The trade dispute has escalated since April 2020, when Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an international inquiry into the origins of Covid-19.
"I am not downplaying the impact of China's actions. They have hurt specific industries and regions, significantly in some cases. Nevertheless, the overall impact on our economy has, to date, been relatively modest," Frydenberg said at the Australian National University. "This is perhaps surprising to many."
While trade between China and Australia fell by about 5.4 billion Australian dollars ($4 billion) in the first half of 2021, compared to the previous year, Frydenberg said that loss had been mostly made up by a 4.4 billion Australian dollar ($3.27 billion) increase with the rest of the world.
Frydenberg also accused Beijing of trying to exert "political pressure" through its actions — some of Canberra's strongest comments yet on the year-long dispute. He said Australia was "on the front line" of a new era of strategic competition between the United States and China, adding it was "no secret" that Beijing had tried to damage Australia's economy over political grievances.