Australia China Business Council Networking Day

  • Speech, check against delivery

To the National President and Chair, John Brumby, ChineseAmbassador – good to see you, to members and senators, former member Craig Emerson,ladies and gentlemen I am delighted to welcome you to Canberra and I applaudthe efforts of the Australia China Business Council to deepen the relationshipbetween our two countries.

I also thank the Council for the role they played in ensuring thesuccess of the visit by Premier Li Keqiang in March.

This networking day is a great opportunity for us here inParliament to meet with stakeholders and experts and share perspectives and opportunitiesfor the further deepening of our mutual engagement.

This bilateral relationship between Australia and China is growingstronger day-by-day. It is multifaceted, although our economic ties are astandout.

In 2015/2016 two way trade in goods and services between our twocountries was almost $150 billion. To place these figures in their propercontext, more than 22 cents in every dollar of global trade we conducted inthat financial year was with China. The stockof Chinese investment in Australia is valued at about $87 billion and foreigndirect investment about $40 billion.

As impressive as these numbers might be, there is much more to thebilateral relationship than trade in goods and commodities and our young peopleare leading the way. For example, in 2016, we welcomed to Australia more than150,000 Chinese students.

These tens of thousands of students are experiencing ourworld-leading lifestyle as well as gaining a world class degree.

In return, our universities and students are benefitingenormously. The presence of the tens of thousands of Chinese students is addinggreatly to the intellectual debate, diversity and vibrancy of our campuses.

China has also become the number one destination for Australianstudents studying abroad under our New Colombo Plan. In the four years since westarted this program, around 3,500 students have commenced New Colombo Planplacements in China – about a fifth of all our placements.

The New Colombo Plan covers forty countries in the Indian OceanAsia Pacific. Their experiences in China range from semester-based andshort-term study right through to work placements and professional placementsas interns in Chinese businesses and entities.

They work in a wide range of fields including law, business,health and the sciences.

There is one outstanding example of collaboration betweenAustralia and China, amongst the many, and this is one available to ourundergraduates who take part in the New Colombo Plan – it's the "ATN HuaweiSeeds for the Future project."

Over three decades, Huawei has emerged as one of the top threesmartphone companies and most valuable brands in the world.

Starting later this year, up to 75 New Colombo Plan students fromAustralian universities will be given the chance to work in Huawei'sworld-class R&D and manufacturing facilities.

This will be an extraordinary experience and so valuable for youngAustralians seeking a career in Information Communications and Technology or inmanagement, business, finance, design and brand management.

Just as education has grown strongly in recent years, tourism isbooming between our countries. China is now one of Australia's fastest growingand highest spending international markets.

More than one million Chinese citizens visited Australia lastyear, and we are working to ensure that this year - the Australia-China Year ofTourism - will bring more people to our shores – we're hoping at least 1.4million more.

In addition, almost half a million Australian tourists visitedChina last year and the numbers are steadily growing. So there's a realcuriosity amongst our people to learn more about our respective countries.

Australia and China signed an updated Memorandum of Understandingon tourism cooperation in 2016. This MoU supports further growth in the sectorby streamlining visa processing and making it easier for more independenttravellers from China to come and explore Australia.

I was pleased to inform the Ambassador when Chinese ForeignMinister Wang Yi was here in February, that visa applications in Australia canbe now completed in Chinese and online.

Interaction between our two countries are deepening in otherunexpected ways. In 2016, China became the leading market for Australian bookpublishing sales, ahead of traditional markets like the UK and the US.

In particular, Australian children's books are extremely popularin China. I am reliably informed that the beautifully illustrated books byMelbourne author Graeme Base have a huge following amongst Chinese children.Many of his books have been translated into Chinese.

When it comes to Australian films, China is our second largestforeign market after the US. Our artists are also forging new connections withChinese artists.

In the ancient porcelain town of Jingdezhen, a prefecture-levelcity with a population of less than two million people, Australian artists likeJuz Kitson and Ah Xian are working with local artists and artisans to produceintricate ceramic artworks that can be found in exhibitions in Tokyo, London,New York, Singapore and around the world.

Now turning to our national obsession – sport. The AustralianFootball League played its first ever regular season game in China this yearwhen Port Adelaide Power played the Gold Coast Suns. I understand all of thestadium's 10,000 seats were sold out, with a worldwide TV audience of over 20million viewers.

I think these examples of collaboration speak volumes about arelationship between our countries that is far more profound than merely buyingfrom and selling goods to each other.

The connections between Australian and Chinese students, betweenour entrepreneurs, our artists, our authors, our researchers , our scientists,our tourists, is what a comprehensiverelationship is all about.

Government-to-government level, government-to-governmentengagement, is at a high level and constant. But when our people engage, that'swhen countries become friends.

The fact that Australia and China are Comprehensive StrategicPartners is not just about the government-to-government connections,relationships and ties. These interactions and networks between our people,firms, universities and other entities and organisations will allow bothcountries to develop a genuinely comprehensive relationship which will thriveand flourish and endure.

My final task this morning is to launch the latest Deloitte AccessEconomics Report on Foreign Direct Investment entitled, 'Partners in Prosperity: The benefits of Chinese investment inAustralia'.

I congratulate ANZ and the Business Council for their vision incommissioning such an important and timely report. Australia needs to invest anamount equal to about one-fifth of our entire GDP each year just to maintaincurrent levels of capital.

The difference between national savings and national investmenthas averaged around 4 per cent of GDP each year over the past decade, or around$70 billion a year as estimated in 2016. The global competition for capital isintense and capital will go where it is most welcome where it is an attractivedestination and where they can secure the best return.

This Report is a timely reminder of the benefits of foreigninvestment and the ever greater role that Chinese capital will play withrespect to ensuring global economic growth and prosperity in the decades ahead.And coming from Western Australia I know that with the peak of the mining boombehind us, foreign investment will help develop other areas of our economy willlead to much greater diversity.

The report looks at specific sectors with potential to benefitfrom Chinese investment and under the Chinese Australia Free Trade Agreementthere is great opportunity for more trade in goods but importantly more tradein services and the health and tourism sectors are two very important pillars.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I know you have much to discuss today. I wish you a day of good conversation, ofacquiring new contacts, discussing ways we can deepen this already valuablerelationship, a comprehensive relationship, between Australia and China and Ihave great pleasure in launching the Deloitte Access Economic Report.

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