Interview: Good relationship with China critical to Australia, says agriculture expert

Source: Xinhua| 2020-05-22 19:42:05|Editor: huaxia

by Marcus Reubenstein, Yang Jingzhong

SYDNEY, May 22 (Xinhua) -- A good relationship with China is critical to Australia, especially the country's agricultural sector, said Fiona Simson, president of the Australian National Farmers' Federation.

"I think it's critical that relationships are built in the good times because that's what you go back to in the bad times," Simson told Xinhua earlier this week, adding that many farmers "believe that this relationship (with China) is a relationship worth investing in."

Simson is the first female president of the NFF. After four years on the job, she has been a highly effective advocate for the sector's peak body.

Over the past two decades, China has risen as a key market for Australian exporters, especially for those in the agricultural sector.

As China has become Australia's largest export destination in recent years, "Australian farmers have matured and become a lot more customer and consumer focused," Simson said.

"Perhaps we're helped along by China as a market which is intrinsically like that, where buyers are interested in the technical aspects of produce and consumers are more concerned about quality," Simson said.

Meanwhile, "it is incredibly important to realize Australia can't take anything for granted," she cautioned.

"Whilst Chinese consumers are very fond of Australian produce, most of the things we produce they can get from elsewhere," she noted, highlighting the importance of bilateral relations.

"This is critical, the relationship needs to be deep, it's just not enough to have one person who has a good relationship with China, it actually needs to be multi-tiered and multi-pronged," she emphasized.

"Farmers are very astute businesspeople," said Simson. "They are very open-minded and accepting of a wide range of people in their communities, because their communities are diverse, they are very aware of building relationships and the importance of trade."

Although Australia and China have many differences in their cultures and traditions, Simson believes that "at the end of the day we've had a very fulfilling trade relationship and that's built on shared needs and shared outcomes."

"It's worth it for both countries to keep working together," she said. Enditem