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Australia-China trade relations: a new era of cooperation?

The Australia-China Business Dialogue, held in Shanghai on 5 November 2023, was a significant event that highlighted the importance of people-to-people relations and economic opportunity for businesses in both countries.

The Dialogue, chaired by the incoming President of the Business Council of Australia Geoff Culbert, brought together select Australian and Chinese business Chief Executives to discuss a range of issues, including decarbonisation, the green economy, AgriTech, food exports, education, research, financial services, tourism, and MedTech.

The Dialogue was an important part of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s and Trade Minister Don Farrell’s visit to China, and it served to underscore the ongoing strength of the relationship between the two countries, despite recent challenges.

China remains Australia’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade worth nearly $300 billion in 2022, accounting for 25 per cent of overall trade. This relationship provides significant opportunities for Australian businesses, and the Business Council of Australia is committed to supporting its members to take advantage of these opportunities.

As Mr Culbert noted, “these personal exchanges are an essential part of the relationship.” The Dialogue provided a valuable opportunity for Australian business leaders to meet with their Chinese counterparts and to build relationships that will support future trade and investment.

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The Business Council of Australia is also committed to working with the Australian Government to resolve any outstanding issues between the two countries. As Mr Black noted, “there are still issues to be resolved and we support the Government’s approach on those matters.”

The Business Council of Australia believes that strong business-to-business relations are vital for Australian businesses, as the Australia-China bilateral relationship stabilises. The Dialogue was a positive step in this direction, and it is hoped that it will lead to further engagement and opportunities for Australian businesses in China.

The following are some specific examples of the economic opportunities that exist for Australian businesses in China:

  • Decarbonisation and the green economy: China is committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2060, and Australian businesses can play a leading role in helping China to achieve this goal. Australian companies are at the forefront of developing and deploying decarbonisation technologies, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, and carbon capture and storage.
  • AgriTech and food exports: China is a major importer of food, and Australian agricultural products are highly sought-after by Chinese consumers. Australian businesses can capitalise on this demand by developing and exporting innovative AgriTech solutions and high-quality food products.
  • Education and research: China is Australia’s largest international student market, and Australian universities are world-renowned for their quality of education. Australian businesses can also provide valuable research and development services to Chinese companies.
  • Financial services: Australia is a leading financial services centre, and Australian banks and other financial institutions can play a role in supporting the growth of the Chinese economy.
  • Tourism and MedTech: China is also a major tourist destination for Australians, and Australian businesses can provide high-quality tourism and MedTech services to Chinese visitors.

The Business Council of Australia encourages Australian businesses to explore the opportunities that exist in China. The Dialogue was a positive step in strengthening business-to-business relations between the two countries, and the Business Council of Australia is committed to supporting its members to take advantage of the economic opportunities that China presents.

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