AustCham Beijing: Australian business as usual


The sheer scale and pace of change occurring within China is providing new opportunities for Australian businesses, writes David Olsson, Chairman of AustCham Beijing.

It is now well known that China is Australia’s second largest export market and the fastest growing investor into Australia, spaning sectors well beyond minerals and resources. Two-way trade could well exceed A$100 billion this year.
The outlook for both economies remains positive, underpinned by a symbiotic relationship that will ensure each maintains a strong growth trajectory. Our Ambassador to China, Dr Geoff Raby, summed up the situation succinctly when he stated at a conference in Tianjin late last year that: “the reality is that China has already become by far the dominant external force in Australia’s national life.”
The potential for future growth is significant. Rapid urbanisation, a growing and increasingly affluent domestic market together with a desire by Chinese companies to increase their international links are giving rise to even more opportunities across China’s cities and provinces. This is particularly apparent in some of the second, third and even fourth tier cities away from the coastal regions. With a further 100 million people expected to migrate to rural areas over the next 10 years and join the bourgeoning middle class, demand for housing, utilities, transport and commercial and social infrastructure is expected to soar.
Australia’s trade and investment relationship is developing in pace with this growth, but the sheer speed of development in China – and the expanding breadth of commercial activity with Australia across sectors and regions in both countries – can be a challenge to keep up with.
The dual challenges for Australia arising from this are simple. Don’t squander the opportunities presented and do whatever is necessary to take advantage of them.
Australian business is ideally placed to make a big contribution to the relationship’s next phase of development. We have the know-how, the ideas and the energy to build new business in areas that will support our mutual interests. But success also requires commitment, a willingness to develop long-term relationships and an understanding of the rapidly changing market.

A new voice
I’m delighted to announce the launch this month of a new AustCham journal, Australia China Insight.
We have contributions from leaders of Australian business and well-respected Australian journalists based in China. Prominent representatives of the Australian Government also feature, including the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin Rudd, and Ambassador Raby.
The journal is produced by the AustCham Beijing team and is provided free to all members of AustCham in China. Copies can also be downloaded through the AustCham Beijing website. We welcome your feedback and encourage your contributions to future half yearly editions.

Collaboration at all levels
It’s with a sense of excitement that we approach the year ahead. The theme for this year is one of collaboration and teamwork.
At the Chamber level there is a real momentum around the Greater China initiative which will better coordinate and align activities and efforts of Chambers on the Mainland and Hong Kong. The joint working group video conference meetings between several of our industry working groups in Beijing and Shanghai are great examples of this cooperation in action.
Business and government must also work together to maximise outcomes. Our working groups are already broadly aligned with the industry sector groups of Austrade. We have undertaken some excellent joint activities with a highlight being the Australian Financial Services Summit in Shenzhen in early December. This summit provided an outstanding opportunity for members of the Beijing and Shanghai Financial Services working groups and Austrade to collaborate in promoting Australia’s financial services sector.
I’m also pleased to note that we have recently signed an MOU with the Australia China Alumni Association and the Australia-China Youth Association to look at ways of better representing Australians of all ages and backgrounds in China.

The year ahead
We move into 2011 firmly on the front foot. AustCham Beijing will continue to look forward and explore ways in which it can better support Australian business in China.
We will continue our heightened strategic focus through the year and look to build on the successes of 2010, particularly in relation to the traction achieved by the industry-based working groups. A greater reach and the creation of deeper relationships with Chinese government agencies will feature heavily on our radar.
In addition, we will continue to provide members with opportunities to hear the views of visiting Australian political figures and business leaders. The insights that our visitors provided during 2010 were valuable from both a local and international perspective. It is a testament to the importance of the organisation in this market that we were able to attract so many high profile speakers during the past year.
I look forward to a busy, fruitful 2011 and the twists and turns that it will no doubt bring as economic and political events unfold. As always, we welcome your feedback and comments on all our activities. 


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