ALARMIST political rhetoric risks harming a vital trade relationship with China, GrainCorp chair Graham Bradley believes.
Mr Bradley attended the Australian Grains Industry Conference in Melbourne and spoke as part of a panel with CBH Group chief executive Jimmy Wilson, the session being compared by Virginia Trioli from ABC television.
Asked about his views on protectionist attitudes globally, Mr Bradley indicated his concerns were closer to home.
“I’m personally more concerned about Australia’s relations with China actually,” he said.
“They (China) understand we have a robust democracy… but when prime ministers and foreign ministers start using inappropriate language that could be misinterpreted and (damaging).”
His views were backed by those of Jimmy Wilson.
“I totally agree. At the end of the day, we have to be very, very careful,” Mr Wilson said.
Mr Wilson praised the government for sticking to a free trade agenda.
“They have stuck to, in essence, the strategy they’ve always had. That is quite refreshing to see,” he told the gathering.
Mr Bradley, meanwhile, expressed hope the US and China would come to “a sensible accommodation” over trade.
“I hope I’m right – that Trump’s a negotiator note a fighter,” he said.