While Australia’s relationship with the United States “takes precedence over everything else”, we would be silly not to take advantage of the opportunities arising from the tension between it and China, particularly in a trading capacity with China, Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar said on the sidelines of the IPA Deakin Small Business: Big Vision conference in Melbourne.
Mr Sukkar said he sees many openings for small business in Australia, particularly on the back of the tariffs the two superpowers continue to impose on each other’s goods.
“I think those sorts of opportunities arise when two big gorillas, so to speak, are placing tariffs on each other’s goods; you don’t need to be a Rhodes scholar to work out that there is going to be great opportunities for you,” he said.
Just this week, the US imposed a 15 per cent duty on Chinese consumer goods, meaning that as of now, 87 per cent of textiles and clothing and 52 per cent of shoes from China will be slapped with import taxes.
The US plans to add more tariffs on 1 October, and then both nations are due to increase them again on 15 December, unless the high-level talks scheduled on Thursday or early October thaw relations between the two countries.
“Obviously, our relationship with the US is pre-eminent and takes precedence over everything else, being our closest ally,” Mr Sukkar said.
“We can simultaneously be a great ally to the United States, but also a great trading partner to China, and that’s the sort of tightrope we’ve got to keep walking.”
The Assistant Treasurer also hinted that local businesses should be looking to exploit the heightening tensions between Seoul and Tokyo, after Japan removed South Korea from a list of trusted trading partners last month.
Asked whether he believes small business owners have recognised these opportunities to date, Mr Sukkar replied: “I don’t reckon they need me to tell them.”