Bruce McConnel, Food Leaders Australia General Manager
Bruce McConnel, Food Leaders Australia General Manager

Exporters urged to remain engaged despite political stoush

Stay optimistic and find ways to deepen your relationship with importers was the message to local exporters at yesterday’s China Update lunch in Toowoomba.

Hosted by the Southern Queensland Export Hub and delivered by Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise, industry heard the best thing to do in the current tense political environment was to “remain optimistic” and “remain engaged”.

TSBE Food Leaders Australia general manager Bruce McConnel said 2020 had already been a disruptive year for freight movement – but that there were still great opportunities in China so long as people adapted to different ways of doing business.

Mr McConnel said the issues people were encountering with getting their product into China was a result of the country enforcing its quotas that “have always been in place”.

“In every case, there has been a technical reason for those trade restrictions to be put in place,’” he said.

“So today’s session is really all about learning how to do business in 2020 China.”

Mr McConnel said he was not seeing much concern from local growers and farmers because of the Darling Downs’ diverse agricultural product and the range of countries they export to.

In any case, he said the first thing exporters had to do to ensure their products would get into China was to be “really clear on the technical aspects”.

“Labelling requirements, food testing requirements, the quotas that are in place and where we as a country sit within those quotas and make sure they’re adequately managed within their own business,” he said.

“But we also need to really ramp up our relationships with China on the business-to-business side of things.”

Head of Holding Redlich’s China Practice Carl Hinze encouraged exports to remain optimistic.

“I think rhetoric is ramping up,” he said in relation to the Chinese-Australian relationship.

“But I remain optimistic there will be an appropriate diplomatic reset.”

Originally published as Exporters urged to remain engaged despite political stoush