Get used to US-China trade war, PM warns

PM Scott Morrison wants the world to get used to the trade war between the United States and China.
PM Scott Morrison wants the world to get used to the trade war between the United States and China.

Scott Morrison believes Australia and the rest of the world will need to get used to the trade war between the United States and China.

The prime minister has offered a bleak assessment of progress in resolving the rift, as the two superpowers continue to trade blows in their long-running tariff spat.

"I think we're going to have to get used to this for a while, this level of tension," Mr Morrison told the Seven Network on Tuesday.

"We've just got to accommodate that, we've got to absorb it, we've got to see the opportunities in it, of which there are many."

The prime minister was initially confident the US-China trade war would be resolved last year.

His hopes were raised again after the G20 Summit at Osaka in June.

"But we've seen what's happened since then."

As he prepares to visit the G7 Summit in France this weekend, the prime minister is treading a fine line in the protracted trade war.

China is Australia's largest trading partner, and the US its most significant security ally.

Mr Morrison said given China's economic success over the past few decades, it was time Beijing adhered to the same rules other countries faced.

"Having achieved that critical mass of economic performance, the rules that apply to all of us, the United States, have got to apply to China as well," he said.

"And the rules-based order where it comes to how technology is handled, how partnerships are formed, how payments are made.

"How you reduce emissions, for example, I mean we should all be subject to the same rules now."

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said Mr Morrison should stop pretending weaknesses in the Australian economy had suddenly emerged as a consequence of tensions between the US and China.

"He says rightly that the management of our relationship with China and with other countries ... is a very important thing for him to focus on," Dr Chalmers told reporters in Brisbane.

"(But) there are substantial weaknesses in our own economy. His denial of our own economic weaknesses closer to home, his failure to come up with a plan, leaves us dangerously exposed to global shocks."

He said Mr Morrison had an opportunity at the G7 meeting to work with other countries to encourage the US and China to resolve their differences.

Australian Associated Press