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China-Australia relations: Scott Morrison to push for WTO to enforce trade rules

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will outline a plan on how to counter ‘economic coercion” from global actors such as China.

The Prime Minister will use his invitation as a guest to the G7 meeting to call for democracies to band together to prevent “economic coercion” from global actors such as China.

Scott Morrison has the World Trade Organisation’s appellate body in his sights as he heads to the G7 summit in Cornwall in the UK via Perth and Singapore.

The Prime Minister plans to tell an audience at Perth’s USAsia Centre on Wednesday that ensuring the WTO is “well-functioning” will be the key to counter bad faith trade partners.

His comments come in the context of a deep rift with China that has partly centred around trade.

“At the G7, we will be working with others to buttress the role of the WTO and to modernise its rule book where necessary,” Mr Morrison plans to say according to draft remarks circulated by his office.

“A well-functioning WTO that sets clear rules, arbitrates disputes objectively and efficiently and penalises bad behaviour when it occurs.

“This can be one of the most powerful tools the international community has to counter economic coercion.”

The draft remarks say the “strategic competition” between the US and China “threatens global and regional stability” as well as the “liberal, rules-based order that has benefited us for so long”.

But in trying to ensure that order remains intact, Mr Morrison will reject a notion of “drawing a closed circle around a particular club” and instead throw his support behind “an open, rules-based global system” to benefit “all sovereign nations”.

“We are facing heightened competition in the Indo-Pacific region,” Mr Morrison plans to say.

“The task is to manage that competition. Competition does not have to lead to conflict. Nor does competition justify coercion.”

Mr Morrison was invited by UK Prime Minister and this year’s G7 host Boris Johnson to be part of an extended group of world leaders that has been dubbed “G7 plus”.

Leaders from India, South Korea and South Africa have also been invited to join that extended group.

The G7 summit will begin on Friday and continue through the weekend.

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