Mission 2.0: Dr Craig Emerson


Trade Minister and Acting Foreign Minister, Dr Craig Emerson, has led one of Australia’s largest trade missions to China, in what he has described as “…standing on the threshold of history.” The aim of the mission was to enhance Australian attitudes to the opportunities in China’s thriving second and third tier cities, writes Sophie Loras.

Leading a delegation of almost 100 Australian business men and women representing a range of sectors, from service industries including green building and design, clean energy, education, financial and professional services, IT, health, culture and logistics, Dr Craig Emerson has wrapped up a successful 6-day trade mission to several key Chinese second and third tier cities.


Delegates met with key local Chinese leaders and business people over the six-day mission, which concluded with a financial services seminar in Shanghai.

The group visited the booming Chinese cities of Changsha, Wuhan, Chengdu and Chongqing. All boasted GDP growth rates in 2010 of 15 to 17 percent, compared with around 10 percent for China more broadly.

The aim of the mission was to encourage Australian businesses to see beyond Australia’s resources trade with China and understand the vast array of sectors Australian companies can work with China as it transitions from focusing on speed of growth to quality of growth.

Dr Emerson with Chengdu Mayor, Ge Honglin.

ABF media

“We are here to help Australian businesses better understand the changes happening in China’s economy and its booming provinces,” Dr Emerson said.

“We need to move beyond the view of China as merely a destination for raw materials,” he said.

“Australian business also needs to move beyond traditional destinations like Shanghai and Beijing to the booming hinterland regions, where China’s extraordinary economic transformation is even more evident.”

Dr Emerson said China was moving away from prioritising “absolute growth” to “quality of growth.”


He said that as China continued to transform, the services sector would begin to play a larger role.

Rising per capita income and urbanisation have driven up demand for services in education, health care, urban planning and architecture as the number of Chinese living in urban areas has continued to grow from less than 20 percent in 1980 to almost 50 percent today. Dr Emerson said those numbers were expected to exceed 70 percent by 2050.

“All this means that China’s second and third tier cities are taking centre stage as the country’s growth hubs,” Dr Emerson said.

Over the last five years, Australian services exports to China grew by an average rate of 15 percent annually, ahead of services exports to the US at 2.8 percent, Korea at 6 percent, Japan at -9.3 percent and the UK at -0.4 percent.

Dr Emerson said Australian companies had already begun capturing these new opportunities with Australia’s ‘Big 4’ banks having already developed a presence in China.

He said China’s 12th Five-Year Plan was also opening up opportunities for Australian companies in the green building and environmental services industries.

“Australia has strong capabilities and expertise in many of the industries that can contribute to China’s modernisation. China can take advantage of Australian capabilities to achieve its development goals,” Dr Emerson said.

“This is why we are here – to put forward that proposition to China, to government decision makers and businesses in those booming provincial centres. Just as we have been a reliable partner in China’s first great economic transformation, so too can Australia become a reliable partner in the next phase of China’s growth.”

The delegation was accompanied by Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles.

In Chongqing, Dr Emerson met with Party Secretary Bo Xilai. Chongqing’s GDP grew 17 percent in 2010 and has a population of 30 million. It is also the only city in western China under Central Government control.

“Therefore [it] can benefit from funding from Central Government to make investment decisions here in Chongqing,” Dr Emerson said.

“This ability to attract Central Government funding from the large investible surpluses that China has accumulated gives Chongqing a special advantage in terms of its relationship with businesses in Australia.”

In Shanghai, Dr Emerson launched a Chinese edition of an Austrade report into the Australian banking industry.

“Through collaboration in our financial services industries, we can ensure that the relationship between Australia and China continues to go from strength to strength.”

He said many in Australia had commented that it was “good luck” that Australia was so deeply engaged with China.

“That analysis is wrong. It is not good luck; it is as a result of 25 years of good management within Australia and within China,” he said.

“And as we contemplate the stability that decades of engagement between our two countries through visionary leadership has brought, we can feel mutually optimistic that our shared future is a bright one.”

“The messages we have received throughout our mission is that China is ready to do business. Of course, Australia is ready to do business as well.”



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