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China trade barriers hurting Victorian farmers

Victorian food and fibre has been left stranded by China’s sudden, punitive import suspensions, but the Andrews Labor Government still stood by its controversial Belt and Road deal today.

Today in State Parliament Trade Minister Martin Pakula was asked to explain the benefits of the Andrews Labor Government’s controversial Belt and Road deal with China – despite the trade suspension.

Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said Labor’s decision to continue to stand by the deal showed it wasn’t putting Victorian farmers first.

“The dodgy Belt and Road deal is all one-way traffic that’s delivering no benefit to Victoria,” Mr Walsh said.

“The Chinese Communist Government is running roughshod over Victorian producers, yet the Andrews Labor Government refuses to withdraw from its deal that hands billions of dollars of Victorian business to China.”

Mr Walsh said farmers were being thrown under the bus by a Government that was more interested in childish politics than the best interests of Victorian producers.

Despite the trade suspension, Labor’s Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes claimed today the Belt and Road was a “strong platform to engage with China” that “provides Victoria a seat at the table”.

“When the Andrews Labor Government went against Federal Government advice and signed Belt and Road it claimed it would open trade opportunities for Victorian farmers,” Mr Walsh said.

“The MOU promises “trade development and market access…especially for agricultural products” but that’s not coming through in practice.

“Given the Chinese Communist Government is now reducing market access for this state’s agricultural products, the Government should be standing up for Victorian farmers and Victorian jobs by tearing up its Belt and Road agreement.”

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