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The national secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union, Paul Howes, has likened China to a predator intent on wrecking Australian manufacturing and says it is time the emerging giant played by the rules of international trade, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

In a speech to be delivered to APEC this week, Howes will attack the free-trade purists and argue that without rules, free trade ”becomes too soon a Darwinian bloodbath, big eating small; the hardworking small business and his family taken out by the equivalent of a drone missile”.

He will say Australia is doing the heavy lifting on trade-policy reforms while ”many of our international competitors, namely China, are very clearly not”.

The AWU has been lobbying the Australian government to increase pressure on China to fully float its currency, arguing that by fixing it at an artificially low level, China ensures its exports remain artificially cheap.

The AWU is also a critic of Chinese protectionism and a supporter of anti-dumping provisions to try to stop cheap imports being dumped in Australia to the detriment of locally made goods.

In his speech to the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Study Centre Conference, Howes will take aim at the purist approach to free trade, saying if the ultimate aim is to bolster the purchasing power of all Australian consumers without delay, ”we should remove, unilaterally, all trade barriers tomorrow”.

”Let Australia become the dumping ground, the Tempe Tip, the toxic-waste dump of every import – slave-made, health hazardous, addictive – any import at all.

”Let’s undercut local industry. Let’s forfeit 1 million jobs. Let’s tell the families of those 1 million workers that all we want is cheap goods, available everywhere, whatever the social cost, whatever the ruin they bring to your town, your neighbourhood, your family.”

Howes will also say it is time to stand up to ”the international predators now coming after our happiness”.

Howes says the Australian government should take a leaf from the book of the visiting US President, Barack Obama, who said America would only do business with those prepared to play by the rules.

”We will fight against protectionist measures but we’re also going to be pushing hard to make sure that you are not engaged in gaming the system,” Mr Obama once said.

Howes says if the approach is good enough for the US, ”it’s good enough for us”.

More at Sydney Morning Herald

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