|Speech by H.E Consul General Duan Jielong at the Australia-China Business Week Lunch|
Mr John Rashleigh, Chairman of Australia Business Forum
Honorable Virginia Greville, NSW State Director of DFAT,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It gives me great pleasure to attend this Australia-China Business Week and meet old and new friends here. Here, I would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the friends from the business community for your long-term efforts in promoting business ties and people-to-people friendship between China and Australia.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of China-Australia diplomatic relationship. In the past four decades, our friendly cooperation was lifted, our political mutual-trust was enhanced, our cultural links were getting increasingly closer and our business cooperation is yielding abundant fruits. The China-Australia comprehensive cooperation has entered a new stage.
Our bilateral cooperation in business and trade has long been the highlight of China-Australia relations. Our industrial structure and endowments of resources are highly complementary to each other. It serves the interests of both sides to promote cooperation in trade and investment on the basis of mutual benefits. In recent years, with the joint efforts of our governments and entrepreneurs, the business cooperation between China and Australia grew not only in scale, but also in its broadness and diversity. China-Australia business cooperation has become role-models of mutual benefits and win-win cooperation.
China has become the largest trading partner, export market and import origin of Australia for many consecutive years. Last year, our bilateral trade in goods was registered over 110 billion US dollars, which grew by 1000 times compared with that when we started our diplomatic relations. In the first six months of this year, Australia’s export to China accounted for 30% of its total export. Australia’s import from China accounted for 17% of its total import. The two-way investments in energy, mineral resources development, agriculture, financial service and other areas have grown rapidly, which made us important investment partners of each other.
The flourishing bilateral business cooperation has brought real benefits to our peoples. On one hand, the demand from Chinese market became a driving force for the growth of Australian economy. Inexpensive and quality Chinese commodities help to enrich Australian people’s life. Export to and investment from China help to increase household income of Australian by over ten thousand dollars per year and create over tens of thousands of jobs. On the other hand, Australia is a major supplier of iron ore, charred coal, steam coal and LNG for China. Premier Australia diary and meat products as well as wines are becoming common table choice of Chinese people.
Today, China-Australia business cooperation is gradually going beyond simple resource demand-and-supply. The trade in service is taking an increasingly higher portion in bilateral trade. China is now the largest source of international students for Australia. By the end of last year, there were around 160 thousand Chinese students studying in Australia, which accounted for over one third of total international students. China is also the fastest growing and most valuable overseas tourists market. It is estimated that this year there will be over 600 thousand Chinese tourists visiting Australia, contributing over 3.6 billion Australian dollars to the local economy.
Looking back into the past 40 years, we can clearly see that China and Australia share broad and important common interests, despite our differences in history, culture, social systems and development stages. In recent years, China and Australia maintained frequently high-level exchanges, vigorously pushed forward FTA negotiation, and signed agreement on currency swap and MOU on infrastructure building. A stable China-Australia strategic cooperative relationship provides firm ground for bilateral business cooperation. I believe today our mutually beneficial bilateral business cooperation shall be attributed to the fact that our governments and business communities have always proceeded from our common interests with mutual respect and trust.
I noticed that recently Australian media has been paying a lot of attention to the “slow-down of China’s economy”. Some people are worrying that China’s economy might have a hard landing, which will yield complex impact on Australia’s economy. Well, it is recognized that China’s economy encountered various difficulties and challenges since the beginning of this year. The growth rate of GDP slowed down, and downward pressure increased on economy. The price index went up and export and import decreased on a year-on-year basis. Some export companies had a very difficult time. So how do we look at China’s economy? Here, I would like to share with you some of my observations.
Firstly, the positive factors are accumulating in China’s economy, and the effect of macro-control policies are revealing gradually. With the implementation of various macro-control policies that are aimed at maintaining stable growth, since July, the growth rate of the industrial sector is stabilizing. The sale of properties is rebounding. The growth rate of industrial output is increasing obviously. The prices of bulk commodities are expected to stabilize. All these are signals that the macro-economy is stabilizing and picking up.
Secondly, China’s economic growth has great structural potential. The urbanization and industrialization of China will unleash huge investment demand. The rising of a middle class of hundreds of millions people will create immense consumer’s demand, which will firmly buttress the stable and relatively fast growth of China’s economy. In the coming years, there is still great growth potential to be tapped from the upgrading of resident’s consumption, the activation of investment of the private sector and the transition of export enterprises. Broad prospect is anticipated in the development of public undertakings as well as modern service industry.
Thirdly, the most important reason for the current economic slowdown of China is the voluntary macro-control by the Chinese government, whose purpose is to fostering the transition and upgrading of the economic growth pattern. The superficial problem of China’s economy seems to be the speed, but in fact it lies in the mode of development. In our twelfth five year plan, the Chinese government voluntarily tuned down the GDP growth expectation, so that the Government has greater policy room to speed up the economic transition and restructuring, and shift the focus from the speed to the quality of growth. By doing so, we try to direct China’s economic development toward a more environmental friendly and resource and energy efficient one.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
China and Australia both have successful experience in addressing the 2008 global financial crisis. Today, China is implementing its twelfth five year plan in a comprehensive way, and tries to transform economic development mode to expand domestic demand and promote consumption. Its potential for economic growth and demand is far away from reaching limits. As the largest trading partner of Australia, China’s fast economic growth will still provide great business opportunity for Australian companies.
When we are watching today’s increasingly complex international situation, the importance of strengthening China-Australia strategic cooperation is self-explaining. It is imperative for China and Australia to value exchange and cooperation, emphasize mutual-benefit and trust and take a rational and pragmatic approach more than ever.
I sincerely hope and firmly believe that in what we call the Asian century, as long as we treat each other with mutual respect and equality, pursue mutually beneficial cooperation and win-win development, fully utilize our advantages, and upgrade our bilateral relations with deeper and sounder bilateral business cooperation, the China-Australia relationship will definitely have a better future.