By Matt Walsh
MELBOURNE, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- A better, widespread understanding of the benefits of globalization is needed to reverse the "protectionist" trend harming the future of free trade, Helen Sawczak, National CEO of the Australia China Business Council (ACBC) told Xinhua on Monday.
Sawczak, who was present at the Boao Forum for Asia on The Future of Globalization in Melbourne last week, said the recent trend away from embracing free trade - championed by leaders in western nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom - has thrown the future of multilateral free trade unfairly into doubt.
"Globalization is currently facing some challenges in the light of certain protectionist trends such as Brexit and the Trump presidency in the U.S," Sawczak told Xinhua in an interview.
"However, the consensus at the Boao Forum for Asia Melbourne Conference was overwhelmingly that globalization is irreversible and beneficial for all nations. A memorable quote from one of the speakers was: 'If you're a patriot, you're an internationalist'."
Sawczak said more transparency in regards to the vast benefits associated with globalization and liberal free trade were needed to convince not only lawmakers, but everyday citizens who are not in favor of free trade deals.
She added that many of the issues people seem to have with globalization can be "countered" by facts, while the host of benefits associated with free trade are not being properly explained to small business owners, farmers and producers of other goods and services.
"A better understanding about the benefits of globalization is still needed, and misunderstandings about the effects of globalization needed to be countered, for instance the loss of manufacturing jobs largely attributable to automation of processes, rather than offshoring," Sawczak said.
The ACBC CEO said while there may be uncertainty surrounding globalization in other parts of the world, Australia was still a firm believer in its benefits.
She said the Australian government's strong bilateral ties with China and other Asian proponents of free trade would ensure the benefits reach not only the wider economy, but small-time businesses and farmers as well.
"In the face of protectionist trends, bilateral and multilateral trade agreements will have an increased significance," Sawczak told Xinhua.
"The Australia-China relationship will undoubtedly continue to strengthen as we now celebrate the first anniversary of ChAFTA and begin to reap all of its benefits with the fullness of time."
At last week's forum, experts and politicians alike agreed that the benefits of free trade were plain to see, particularly in Australia.
The state of Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews described ChAFTA as "a model for what can be achieved" through free trade.
"The important thing is to remember that globalization, open markets, open dialogue and shared investment are critical to prosperity and growth for the future. You simply cannot achieve what we want to achieve if we don't work together," he told the press on Thursday.
"It's become fashionable to question globalization, and that's been something under close examination in many parts of the world of recent times.
"This 'isolationist' agenda seems to be quite popular at the moment, but benefits no one."