Fortescue demands Australia kow tow to China

Via The Australian comes the oligarchs:

Fortescue Metals Group boss Elizabeth Gaines has warned that China will look to develop alternative iron ore supplies outside the Pilbara if Australia neglects its relationship with its biggest trading partner…Ms Gaines said the Australian business community needed to maintain its influence in public debate on political policies. “The most critical of these is our Australia-China relationship,” she said.

…“We believe it is our responsibility to contribute to economic and social policy debates, especially when they impact our business and the livelihood of our people,” she said.

“Our success and that of the economy as a whole has been built on the great powerhouse that is China. We must ensure that our experience is front and centre in the discussion about Australia’s relationship with China to position ourselves for future success.

FMG already bankrolls regular junkets to favourable Chinese events for AFR journalists, especially for its Page Two columnist. You tell me if this is “to contribute to economic and social policy debates”.

Basically the argument is poppycock. Australia was rich long before the China boom. It would still be rich without it. Not to mention a lot more free, less corrupt and capable of good policy to make its people richer instead of a few oligarchs.

The dirt would still be shipped, just at lower prices. The tourists and students would still come, just from other countries. The crashed AUD and lower house prices would make Australia an irresistibly competitive market on the doorstep of Asia as it absorbed all of the supply chains galloping out of a repressive China.

It would not be painless, but neither is making FMG rich at the expense of freedom for our kids.

In short, Gaines’ warning is classic partial analysis designed to benefit FMG shareholders, not national interest policy.

David Llewellyn-Smith

David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal.

He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.

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  1. A different Peter!
    No nation has ever devalued its currency to achieve sustainable prosperity.
    Successful trading nations have a strong current account with a steady or rising currency v.s trading partners.
    Far better to invest in education and innovation to improve productivity than rely on lazy currency devaluation.
    The Zimbabwean model has been shown to end in tears!

    • Agreed 100%. For some reason, however, people can’t help themselves.

      When faced with two choices: go the challenging route or take the easy way out, 99% of humans choose the latter.

      Thus, currency devaluation …. and eventual doom (just hopefully ‘not on my watch’)

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      Prosperity via keeping the currency low, Japan in the 70s and 80s comes to mind. The key is a strong current account surplus AND a falling currency.

      • The Yen fell from 220-280 in the 1980s to the USD to be around 109 today, rising ~3 fold as the nation became wealthy.

        • Isn’t that the yen rising in value?
          Ah! I see you have that at the end…..Plaza Accord and all of that.

          • Yen v. AUD or GBP would show the same strength.
            The Deuchmark was a strong currency. Devaluation is a short term measure at best and a cowards retreat at worst.

  2. Ronin8317MEMBER

    Dirt can be sold elsewhere, tourist and students will come from other countries, but only the Chinese will buy our flammable toppling dog-box apartments that will kill you if you lean on the balcony rail.

  3. …“We believe it is our responsibility to contribute to economic and social policy debates, especially when they impact our business and the livelihood of our people,” she said.


    Next, let’s have an “economic and social policy debate” on the merits of a sovereign wealth fund, funded by a fair percentage of the profits made from the exploitation of those resources.

    Your thoughts Liz?