Economic diplomacy: two important issues

Rythm change

If Australia’s forest fire crisis has done one thing to inadvertently calm the national zeitgeist during the holiday season, it is in the way that climate change has suddenly returned to supplant China as the country’s biggest perverse problem.

But, in reality, these two themes of the great C, which seem to pursue Australian international relations, and particularly economic diplomacy, over the next decade, are inextricably linked.

Chinese economic growth underpins the Australian economy and any possibility of maintaining the much sought-after budget surplus of the federal government amid the need for substantial fire recovery spending. As James Laurenceson points out, Australia’s commercial dependence on China has only grown in recent years, as the government has adopted the broader concept of the Indo-Pacific as a new collective way of dealing with Beijing’s most assertive leadership.

Morrison’s canceled trip to India this week was about strengthening China’s coverage in the Indo-Pacific and a new trade agreement. But it could also have provided the first proof of its ability to restore Australia’s image as an exporter of resources for a world with less carbon.

But China is also the most important expanding carbon emission generator, partly due to its consumption of fossil fuels and steelmaking, for which it relies heavily on Australian resources. As Prime Minister Scott Morrison argues, China’s rising emissions would eliminate any further reduction in Australia.

And it is difficult to see a global initiative that changes the game to limit carbon emissions (and eliminate Australia’s climate change deniers debate) without repeating cooperation between the United States and China on this issue that was attempted in the years of the Obama administration. This is something that Morrison should consider when balancing our main economic and security partners, and complains about negative globalism.

Morrison’s recourse to hitting the political rescue and militarization buttons at the same time can work at home in communities devastated and desperate for fire, although the first opinion poll shows that he has some ground to recover.

But these domestic tactics are unlikely to do anything to stop Australia’s remarkable destruction of climate change’s reputation and, more importantly, its valuable image of a clean and green tourism destination, outside the country.

The diplomatic climate recovery begins in the Pacific

It now seems even more likely that the rapid review of ongoing development aid will have to attack other programs in developing Asia to provide funds to buy hearts and minds in the Pacific on climate change. Some grateful allies of the Pacific may be the only guaranteed friends that Morrison will have when he re-emerges on the global stage with some kind of reformulated climate policy.

But the Step-up programs in the Pacific are increasingly likely to be scared by real gambit or rumored by China in the region, the same China that underpins our spending on fire recovery (and help), but that contributes so much to the Climate change that caused the fire. so bad season

Reflecting on the two big C twins that face Australian international relations was partly inspired by my experience of vacations on the secondary roads north of Victoria’s western surfing coast, dodging the risk of fire (a brief preventive evacuation) and the Chinese tourists who now descend on Great Ocean Road.

Foreign tourists take control of this iconic coastal trip is controversial with some locals, but Victoria’s road managers have accepted the reality of Chinese tourist influx by erecting intermittent warning signs in Mandarin.

Mandarin road sign on a rural road near Colac in western Victoria (Photo provided by the author)

Finding these signs on the roads that I have traveled since my childhood, I was surprised that traffic managers looked a bit like local fire-fighting authorities across the country.

Both continue to pragmatically manage new difficult realities (climate change and economic dependence on China) amid an often destructive and opportunistic ideological battle at the federal level, which has questioned Australia’s national ability to handle each of these challenges

The great regional stick of Australia

While diplomats and commentators often see initiatives such as the Cambodian peace process and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group as examples of Australia’s regional influence, our real power comes from the ability to provide products reliably. and efficient to feed the economic “miracle” of Asia.

These customers will often ask themselves quietly why Australia has failed to add value to its commodity exports, but they appreciate that they would not have developed so quickly without them, leaving climate change aside. For example, our new diplomatic partner Vietnam is buying hungry Australian coal while facing one of the worst population displacement threats as a result of rising sea levels.

It would be imprudent to exaggerate Australia’s ability to encourage developing neighbors to adopt more responsible climate policies, but a country that was able to get its own energy price in order and manage less future demand for coal would certainly have more credibility in the region. . China and India to do more.

The most strident criticism of forest fires came from European environmentalists and commentators, such as this spicy column by Gideon Rachman. But with fundraising against fires in places as diverse as Vietnam and Papua New Guinea, it is difficult to think of a time when the Australian administration of its resources has received so much critical attention from our closest neighbors (and customers).

Morrison’s canceled trip to India this week was about strengthening China’s coverage in the Indo-Pacific and a new trade agreement. But it could also have provided the first proof of its ability to restore Australia’s image as an exporter of resources for a world with less carbon.

Economist Ross Garnaut has provided a timely roadmap for this kind of restart in his new book Superpower by describing how Australia’s low carbon energy resources could give it even more influence in regional economic development.

Therefore, Morrison could have used his trip to India to welcome Indian investment in Australian resources, but also keep in mind that India itself is trying to position itself for a different future by promoting solar energy and Electric vehicles

As Garnaut argues, Australia can play an important role in these new industries, for example, by providing raw materials for batteries. This could even help to handle two big evil C problems at the same time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *