Opening day remarks, China International Fair for Trade in Services

Beijing

Speech, check against delivery

28 May 2012

Commerce Minister Chen

Beijing Party Secretary Liu

Beijing Mayor Guo

This time last year I was happy to accept a personal invitation from Commerce Minister Chen to address the third China Trade in Services Congress, here in Beijing, and I spoke about Australia's services sector expertise, and our efforts to broaden our economic engagement with China.

In August 2011, I returned to China, leading an Australian business delegation to six of China's most dynamic cities. During this visit I was struck by the energy and potential of these cities and the opportunities for deepening Australia-China trade – especially in services.

Today, I am here again at the personal invitation of my friend Minister Chen for the first China International Fair for Trade in Services. The size and scope of this event befits China's ambitious agenda for trade in services.

For its next era of economic development, China has embraced a new vision for high-quality and inclusive growth featuring a vibrant and internationally-competitive services sector.

In China's rapidly growing cities, a modern urban lifestyle requires sophisticated services such as financial planning, banking, urban design and architecture.

Education services will drive innovation, by improving the capacity for research and increasing skills levels in the workforce.

For Australia, broadening our relationship with China into services is a natural next chapter in our long-standing and productive friendship and economic relationship.

The strong bonds between our two countries date back to the visionary leadership of former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, who recognised the People's Republic of China in 1972.

These bonds were strengthened through the 1980s and 1990s, especially during the Hawke and Keating governments, and Minister Chen and I are working towards further strengthening our bilateral relationship during this the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

Under Minister Chen's leadership, our two countries are also strengthening our services linkages.

Tomorrow the Ministry of Commerce and the China Association of Trade in Services will host the inaugural Australia-China Services Sector Promotion Forum. The Forum was established under a Memorandum of Understanding signed last year, witnessed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Premier Wen Jiabao.

This Forum is an ideal vehicle for business-led discussion on the policy settings that are needed to continue to develop competitive and modern services, and to support the growing volume of trade in services.

Senior business representatives from service industries in Australia and China will offer insights from past reforms in both countries, and look to identify new opportunities for greater engagement and cooperation on services.

The Forum, and tomorrow's Australia Feature Day event, will showcase Australia's services expertise and explore major opportunities for greater trade and cooperation in Chinese and Australian markets.

China is already our largest trading partner and our largest services export market. Australia is also one of the leading destinations for Chinese students and tourists.

We are committed to broadening the relationship and ensuring Australian services organisations are not only serving Chinese customers, but also contributing to China's development, and helping China's own service industries gain competitiveness and expertise to expand its global role.

For example, Monash University in Melbourne recently announced it had been granted a licence to operate in China, where it will partner with Southeast University to open a Graduate School in Suzhou.

Here students will choose from a range of disciplines relevant to the high-tech, high-skill, innovative Chinese growth model of the future. These disciplines include nanotechnology, environmental science, industrial design, and engineering. Monash is only the third foreign university to be granted such a licence.

Today, I reaffirm my commitment to work together to help deliver innovation, expertise and competition in China's domestic services sector. This will improve productivity and provide the competitive edge necessary for China's ambitious services firms to expand in global markets.

Australia looks forward to working with China as it shifts to the next stage of economic development.

Thank you very much.

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