Australia and Europe should cooperate to resist and respond to coercive trade measures by China

A new Lowy Institute report says Australia and the European Union should work together more closely to deter economic coercion by China, including potentially cooperating within a NATO context to develop approaches and responses to coercive measures. 

The Lowy Institute Research Note Countering Chinese economic coercion: Enhanced cooperation between Australia and Europe has been written by Justin Brown, a former senior diplomat and Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He argues that as targets of Chinese coercion, Australia and the EU and its member states have a common interest in cooperating to deter trade measures and mitigate their impacts.

“With geopolitical rivalry between the United States and China likely to intensify further, there is a risk that more countries could become targets of Chinese economic coercion, as has recently been the case for Australia and Lithuania,” Brown said. “As major supporters of the rules-based international order and proponents of multilateralism, Australia and the EU have the leadership and credibility to jointly promote collective action to counter coercion.”

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Australia, the EU and its member states have been targets of Chinese economic coercion. They have a common interest, therefore, in cooperating to deter such measures and mitigate their impacts.
  • As longstanding supporters of multilateralism, Australia and the EU should cooperate to promote strengthened global rules and standards against economic coercion. Work at the World Trade Organization to build agreement on an anti-coercion approach should be a high priority for Australia–EU cooperation, as should coordination in the OECD and G7 to advance the WTO efforts.
  • Australia and the EU should use their bilateral dialogue processes to make a detailed examination of economic coercion. They should make their analyses and expertise available to other affected countries. Where appropriate, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and the EU High Representative/Vice President for Foreign Affairs should make joint statements on relevant global developments related to economic coercion.
  • Australia and the EU could consider initiatives such as strengthening cooperation on resilience, cooperating within a NATO context to counter coercive measures, and deepening the dialogue between the Australian and European parliaments on economic coercion.

The report is available to read and download at the Lowy Institute website:


Shane McLeod
Director, Media and Communications