Off to China with PM

LETTER: Hagen Stehr holding his invitation from the Prime Minister to attend a trade delegation to China.
LETTER: Hagen Stehr holding his invitation from the Prime Minister to attend a trade delegation to China.

TUNA magnate Hagen Stehr has been invited to join a ministerial trade delegation to China by prime minister Tony Abbott.

Mr Stehr said he had previously spoken to Mr Abbott about what he felt needed to be done to improve trade relations with China, then received a letter inviting him to join the delegation.

Mr Stehr said he was "chuffed" to be invited.

"It shows the government is trying to do something for the fishing industry," he said.

"We can't just rely on a single market, we've got to be able to branch out to other areas."

Mr Stehr said the tuna export industry was overly reliant on the Japanese market.

"We're beholden to Japan.

"There are big markets in China and South Korea, and this will be a small step toward opening the market."

Mr Stehr said he had raised the issue of opening up Chinese and South Korean markets with Mr Abbott whenever he saw him, including when he was in opposition.

Mr Stehr said he saw getting a free trade agreement with China as a primary goal, which he hoped to see by the end of the year, and hoped to see tariffs reduced.

Mr Stehr said he would be a seafood ambassador while in China, and would spread the message that seafood from Eyre Peninsula and Port Lincoln was from "without doubt the cleanest waters", harvested sustainably.

"I will do my darndest to put Eyre Peninsula and Port Lincoln on the map, in my role as seafood ambassador.

"Not only for tuna, but lobster, abalone and everything else."

The trade delegation will be in China from April 8 to 11 during the inaugural "Australia Week in China".

Mr Stehr said he expected "good things will come of it."

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