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A New Historic Opportunity for China-Australia Business Cooperation
Consul-General Duan Jielong

2011-07-18

The Year 2011 is bound to become yet another milestone in the development of the China-Australia relationship.

Not long ago,H.E.Mr. Jia Qingqin, Chairman of National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference paid a successful visit to Australia. The Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard also concluded her first visit in her current position to China . The leaders of the two countries reached more concensus on furthering cooperation and exchanges between the two sides in areas as business, science and technology, resources, new energy, agriculture,animal husbandry, etc. The two sides signed cooperation documents in the following nine fields including high education, high level dialogue, financial industry, investment, trade in services, customs, mutual administrative assistance, tourism and mining. I believe, high-level visits as such will provide fresh impetus to the comprehensive relations between China and Australia aiming for mutual benefits and win-win results.

Australia is the only western economy which did not suffer from recession during the current global financial crisis. China and Australia are strongly complementary to each other economicly due to their differences in development phase, resources endowment, and economic structure. Such high complementarity played a crucial role in helping the two countries dodging the head-on impact of the GFC. As a matter of fact, the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries in economy and trade and in all other areas has never gained such width and depth as of today. Statistics recorded by the Chinese Government show that in the first quarter of this year, the bilateral trade volume between the two was USD33.6 billion with an impressive growth of 40.3%, indicating the total number for this calendar year expected to exceed USD100 billion . The two-way investments are also expanding at fast paces. By the end of 2010, Australia's actual investment in China exceeded USD6.5 billion, while direct investment from Chinese companies in non-financial sectors in Australia was over USD8.8 billion. In April 2011, China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (SINAPEC) and Australia Pacific LNG (APLNG) signed an agreement with the latter supplying 4.3 million tons of LNG annually for 20 years, starting from 2015. It is by far one of Australia's largest international project in the area of energy and resources.

The year of 2011 is also the inaugural year of the 12th Five Year Plan for China. In the coming five years, China will strive for the following goals: maintaining stable and relatively fast economic growth with an annual GDP growth rate at 7%, pursuing an overall balance of international payment, modifying the economic structure and substantially lifting the proportion of household consumption in the overall national economy, and raising the share of service industry in GDP by 4%. A special focus will be on resource conservation and environmental protection, with the goal of bringing down the energy consumption per unit GDP by 16% and CO₂emission per unit GDP by 17%. People's living standards will also be raised proportionately, with an annual 7% growth in both disposable urban per capita income and net per capita income in the rural areas.

Great market potentials and investment demand will be unleashed as China strives to achieve the above goals, which will definitely bring new development opportunities for business communities around the globe, including, of course, those from Australia. Therefore, apart from the traditional areas such as mining and rescources, China and Australia should work hard to expand cooperation in multiple new sectors of fresh opportunities.

The infrastructure industry. In the coming five years, Chinese companies will expedite their pace of "going-global". While encouraging those companies with strong competitiveness to invest in Australia and participate in projects like transportation, telecommunication and energy infrastructure, the Chinese Government always stresses that the investors should actively fulfill their social responsibilities and bring real benefits to the local communities where they invest. There will be substantial demands in Australia for infrastructure in the new round of mining boom, the building of the National Broadband Network as well as the rebuilding of Queensland. Equipped with rich experience and mature technologies, the Chinese companies will find ample opportunities for cooperation in Australia. We would also welcome entrepreneurs from Australia to make investments in infrastructure related projects in china, especially in the ongoing development of the mid-west China.

The service industry. China will accelerate the development of modern service industries in the next five years. Australia is strong in service industries with abundant experience and great competitiveness. In 2010, China became the largest service export market for Australia for the first time in history. 545,000 Chinese tourists visited Australia last year, which grew by 20.61% on a annual basis,. And the number of Chinese students studying in australia is more than 130,000. China is now standing as the largest source of international students and the fastest growing source of overseas tourists for Australia. Cooperation between Chinese and Australian companies in areas like medicine, public health, food safety, finance, security and tourism are certainly very much encouraged..

Trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. China and Australia are very important trade and investment partners to each other. Yet China's investment in Australia only accounts for less than 1% of Australia's total foreign investment, which does not match its status as Australia's largest trading partner. So the need for policies on open and non-discriminative grounds on part of both Governments should never be overstated. And it is the shared responsibilities for the two Governments to create a favorable environment for fair competition. That is why we would always ask for a fair-go for all investors from China, including the state-owned enterprises.

I have noted with great pleasure that it has become a consensus of all walks of life in Australia, particularly in the state of NSW, that Australia should further comprehensive and practical cooperation with China. For a long time over the decades, the political, business, academic circles as well as the press here in NSW have long committed themselves to nurturing friendly relations with China. The mutually beneficial cooperation between China and NSW has become a vivid showcase of the overall Sino-Australias relationship.

NSW's trade with China in 2010 stood at AUD 23 billion, recording a year-on-year growth of 13%. Now all the major commercial banks and major airlines from China have set up branches or rep-offices in Sydney. The ever maturing business environment, rich natural resources and friendly multicultural community in NSW are attracting more and more Chinese companies to start business in the state. The large Chinese community and tens of thousands of Chinese students and scholars served as rich and great social resources and potential for bilateral cooperation in various fields. Premier Barry O'Farrell of NSW has made it very clear his plan to lead a business delegation to visit China this year. I believe this visit will without doubt strengthen trade and investment links between relevant provinces and municipalities in China and the state of NSW.

The relationships among countries will always find their roots in the friendship of the peoples. Launched since June 2010, the Year of Australian Culture has enchanted the Chinese audiences with the unique Aussie culture through a whole range of fabulous shows and activities. In a few days time, the Year of Chinese Culture in Australia will officially inaugurate in Sydney. This magnificent feast of Chinese culture will for sure further enhance the mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples, and allow more Australians to experience, at such a close distance, the charm of the Chinese culture, a great heritage of mankind. And this will inevitably nourish a sounder social foundation for further growth of the business ties and cooperation in all areas between the two great nations.

As the ancient Chinese saying goes, "bosom friends might be thousands miles apart, yet there will be no distance if we own the same hearts and minds". As long as both China and Australia continue to adhere to the shared theme of peaceful development and mutual benefit, we will be able to provide inexhaustible energy for our ongoing cooperation in trade and areas across the board, which will result in common prosperity and better living for our two peoples.

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