ANZ boss says the deteriorating Australia—China relationship is ‘concerning’
The head of one of Australia’s big four banks says he’s concerned about rising tensions between Australia and China, and the impact the conflict will have on dealings in China.
Sino-Australian relations plummeted to a historic low after the Australian government pushed for an independent review into the origins of COVID-19.
The move was condemned by Beijing, with Chinese authorities accusing Australia of launching a political attack against China, and pandering to the US.
In the weeks since the Australian-led inquiry push, China has imposed an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley imports, and suspended imports from several abattoirs.
ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott today told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell the growing conflict has “raised the risk profile” around certain parts of the bank’s business.
“We are liberal, open economies that depend on the free movement of people and goods, and if those things start to be less free, for health reasons or geopolitical reasons, of course that’s concerning,” Mr Elliott said.
“We’ve got operations all around the region. What does it mean for our offices in Hong Kong, for example?”
Mr Elliott was adamant ANZ China will continue to operate, but admitted it may shrink in size.
“We’ll continue to be in China, I don’t think that’s under threat,” he said.
“Our business in China … is to service the trade and capital flow in and out of China, mostly to Australia and New Zealand.
“That will continue to be a great business. China is still going to buy iron ore and we’re still going to buy a lot of stuff from China, but the scale and breadth of that operation may change.”
Mr Elliott said he believes rising tensions are speeding up existing patterns of decreased reliance on China.
“China is getting more expensive to operate in as the country develops, so people were worried about having all their eggs in one basket, so they were moving plants and factories to Thailand, Vietnam and India and all these other places,” he said.
“I think all these recent changes are going to speed some of those changes up.”
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