“Australian and Chinese business leaders agreed that continued deepening of their relationships and cooperation was essential to successfully navigate the economic transition underway in both countries,” Australia’s Co-Chair of the roundtable, Business Council of Australia President Catherine Livingstone said.
“We agreed we would press our governments to lower barriers to trade and investment, and tackle tricky behind-the-border issues to increase competition and strengthen resilience in our economies,” Ms Livingstone said.
“Major structural change is occurring in both of our countries in response to globalisation, and technological and demographic developments. Countries that adopt necessary reforms emerge stronger and more adaptive in this competitive global environment.
“Our economic relationship continues to be anchored by our trade in minerals and energy. However, since the China–Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) entered into force, our relationship is diversifying into new business and investment areas,” she said.
It was the fifth roundtable of business leaders from both countries in what has become a key forum for business to business dialogue coinciding with visits by the national leaders.
Under the overarching theme of innovation-capable economies, the 25 senior business leaders from Australia and China (see list below) discussed opportunities in the following areas:
- The diversification of the Australia–China economic relationship
- Cooperation in mining, energy and resources
- Deepening cooperation in services
- Bilateral cooperation in agriculture.
“The best bilateral economic relationships are reciprocal. While openness brings the greatest benefits to the economy that opens its borders, economic gains are even greater and mutually reinforcing when economies liberalise together,” Ms Livingstone said.
“We agreed that innovation and productivity will be critical for continued growth in both economies.
“And we welcome Prime Minister Turnbull’s recently announced innovation initiatives that focus on increasing collaboration between Australia and China in research and development, as well as commercialisation. The Business Council recognises that partnerships around innovation also present an opportunity for new sources of bilateral growth.
“To maintain strong e-commerce trade between Australia and China, we would encourage stability, consultation, certainty and consistency in policies governing this new area. Both countries expect demand for Australian agrifood products to increase even further, and in turn transform Australia’s agrifood sector.
“Agricultural items carved-out of the free trade agreement should be reviewed by governments immediately with the objective of eliminating these tariffs over an agreed time frame.
“We agreed Australian companies could also play a key role in China’s services sector. Australia and China both face the challenge of an ageing population. Australian service providers in aged and health care, wealth management, financial services and tourism are ready to deliver world-class services to assist China’s growing urban and ageing middle class.
“Further services trade could be strengthened through opening up our markets and addressing remaining 'Behind the Border' regulations that limit access to each other’s markets.
“Australian business welcomed China’s continued investment in Australia, and agreed we all need to build stronger trust with the community through greater transparency, and we agreed to work together to help alleviate community concerns when they arise.
“Australian business also expressed an interest in understanding better the role Australia can play in China’s One-Belt One-Road initiative, and appreciate that China’s contribution to this initiative is not only good for China, but good for the region more generally” Ms Livingstone said.
“We support in principle the concept of establishing the Sino Australia Free Trade Zone in Zhejiang Province. But for this initiative to really work it is imperative that Australian producers and value adders be given access to invest in the bonded free trade zone”.
Participants in the Australia–China CEO Roundtable 2016
Catherine Livingstone AO, Business Council of Australia (Chairperson)
Alan Joyce, Qantas Airways Limited
Alison Watkins, Coca-Cola Amatil Limited
Shayne Elliott, ANZ
Stuart Fuller, King & Wood Mallesons
Neville Power, Fortescue Metals Group Limited
Andrew Michelmore, MMG Limited
Lance Hockridge, Aurizon Holdings Limited
Gary Helou, Murray-Goulburn Co-operative Co. Limited
John W.H. Denton AO, Corrs Chambers Westgarth
Andrew Harding, Rio Tinto
Simon McKeon AO, AMP Limited
Geoff Healy, BHP Billiton
Huaibang Hu, China Development Bank (Chairperson)
Zhenming Chang, CITIC Group Corporation
Yinbiao Shu, State Grid Corporation of China
Wen Ling, China Shenhua
Derong Chen, Baosteel Croup Corporation
Xiaopeng Li, China Merchants Group
Fenjian Chen, China Communications Construction
Deqi Ren, Bank of China
Jiade Liu, China Life
Yonghao Liu , New Hope Group Co., Ltd
Peiyi Hu, Shanghai Zhongfu
Cheng Ye, Landbridge Group.