Australia is “deeply disappointed” with United States President Donald Trump’s decision to slap tariffs on China and worried about his approach to global order.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says Australia is committed to free trade and opening up markets.
“We’re deeply disappointed by the fact that the US administration has applied unilaterally tariff measures that go against those established rules,” Senator Birmingham told ABC radio on Wednesday.
“Just as we are concerned by actions of other countries in terms of industrial subsidies that they might apply in different ways.”
President Trump used a speech at the United Nations to trumpet his America-first vision.
“We reject the ideology of globalism and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism,” Mr Trump said.
Senator Birmingham said the United States’ approach is threatening the global trade order that Australia, as a middle power, relies on.
“We are worried about the actions and policies of the US administration in so far as they’re disruptive to the effective operation of the World Trade Organisation,” he said.
“They are disruptive in terms of some of the dispute resolution mechanisms that Australia relies upon quite heavily.
“Any semblance of trade disputation between the US and China with competing tariffs and subsidies going backwards and forwards has the potential to slow global economic growth.”
The trade minister said he raises those concerns directly when he meets with US representatives, as does Foreign Minister Marise Payne.
Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said Mr Trump was speaking to a domestic audience with his UN comments.
But Senator Wong said increased tension between the US and China wouldn’t help Australia.
“I think Australia stands to lose economically in the world as well as obviously increased competition and tension isn’t conducive to a more secure world,” she said.