China-Australia Business Cooperation Is Promising
--Speech by His Excellency Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu at 2014 China-Australia Economic Forum
(July 7, 2014, Guangzhou)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to attend 2014 China-Australia Economic Forum. Let me first congratulate on the event on behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Australia. It is especially significant and relevant for representatives from different sectors of the two countries meeting in the beautiful Imperial Springs to discuss how to advance China-Australia business ties and broader bilateral relationship.
Mountains and oceans cannot separate like-minded people. Though oceans apart, China and Australia are bonded closely as good friends and strategic partners by history and reality. Our economic cooperation has been thriving and achieving remarkably as our bilateral relations grow from strength to strength since the beginning of this century. Let me share with you some figures.
China remains Australia’s largest trading partner, largest export market, largest source of import, largest market for trade in service, and largest source of tourism revenue. Australian statistics show that two-way trade between China and Australia was AUD 141.76 billion in 2013, an increase of 20.7% year on year. Among that, Australian export to China reached AUD 100 billion, exceeding its export to Japan, the ROK, the US and India combined. One out of every three dollars of Australian export goes to the China. Fifty-four out of every 100 tones of China’s imported iron ore come from Australia. Australian service export to China amounted to AUD 7 billion and 80% of the value was created by Chinese students and tourists. Australia has become the eighth largest trading partner of China.
Our economic relations have been diversifying and broadening from mere two-way trade to cooperation in wide-ranging new areas such as investment, service, infrastructure and SMEs. Central banks of China and Australia also signed a bilateral currency swap deal, realizing direct trading between the RMB and AUD. China’s non-financial investment in Australia was AUD 3.94 billion in 2013, growing by 82.4% year on year and making China’s total direct non-financial investment in Australia AUD 17 billion by the end of 2013. From 2005 to 2013, Australia has become the second most popular destination of overseas Chinese investment and absorbed around 12% of China’s overseas investment, which is AUD 57.25 billion.
It is worth mentioning that Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott paid a successful visit to China last April, accompanied by a record number of over 700 businessmen who together represent over half the value of the Australian stock exchange, well reflecting the closeness of China-Australia business ties.
China-Australia economic cooperation has delivered real benefit to both sides, especially our peoples. It is estimated that trade with China has added AUD 13,400 to the annual income of each Australian household, equivalent to earning a new car by each household every year. Australian beef, lamb, diary products are popular among Chinese consumers. Australian resources have also fuelled China’s industrialization and urbanization.
As two highly complementary economies, China and Australia are tapping into the great potential of their economic cooperation by negotiating a free trade agreement. It is predicted that the China-Australia FTA will benefit Australian economy by AUD 20 billion each year. It will also bring about greater economic growth, freer and better trade, and fairer and more stable investment and business environment in both countries. We hope to conclude the negotiations at an early time, which will provide a stronger boost to our economic cooperation.
China and Australia are also embracing new opportunities for closer economic cooperation presented by the transformation and upgrading of both economies. We need to broaden and deepen our economic cooperation in both traditional and new areas. The strong will for closer cooperation is evident in recent China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue in Beijing two weeks ago which delivered encouraging results.
China-Australia relations are wide-ranging and firmly underpinned by political, economic, cultural and security links. We have forged a strategic partnership and put in place bilateral exchange arrangements such as the annual leaders’ dialogue, diplomatic and foreign dialogue, and strategic economic dialogue, which provide strategic direction and support for this relationship. We have also built closer ties in business, tourism, education, science and technology, and sports.
Both China and Australia should be committed to growing their relations from a strategic and long-term prospective in recognition of their common interests best served by mutually beneficial cooperation.
A better China-Australia relationship represents our common aspiration and the trend going forward. China and Australia working together in the search for flight MH370 set an outstanding model for regional and international cooperation to deal with crisis and challenges.
The year 2014 is a year of cooperation, progress and enterprise for China-Australia relations. President Xi Jinping will visit Australia later this year for the Brisbane G20 summit and a broader bilateral visit program, marking another state visit to Australia by a Chinese president in seven years. It certainly will be a historic visit and new milestone in China-Australia relations.
I appreciate what Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard once remarked that Australia must remain reasonable and focus on its common ground with China instead of difference before we can consolidate our friendship. Though different in history, culture, political system and development stage, China and Australia have no fundamental conflict of interests or historical burden. Our common interests far outweigh differences. We should respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, put each other’s strategic intention in the right perspective, and properly handle differences through dialogue. We can advance together in mutual accommodation and learning.
The then Prime Minister Whitlam was visiting Beijing on this day 43 years ago, which laid the groundwork for the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Australia in 1972. One member of the Whitlam delegation said that if asked to predict early that year whether he would be most likely to visit China or the moon, he would choose the latter. Looking back in the past, we only admire with awe the extraordinary political wisdom, vision and courage shown by the then leaders. We are now to undertake the mission to shape this relationship into the future and jointly work for a comprehensive, stable, mature and sound China-Australia strategic partnership.