Australian China Business Council
Well,good afternoon, it's terrific to be here, and to all of you that have come andtaken the time out of your day to be here and reflect on Australian businesswith China and Chinese business with Australia.
Avery warm welcome to Parliament House, I'm delighted to hear that it's gonewell.
I'mat a little bit of a disadvantage though because coming at the end of the dayto do the summation, when I haven't had the chance to sit here as all of youhave, makes it a little more challenging for me.
Butwhat this is an opportunity to do, though, is perhaps to provide a summary ofwhere I see our bilateral relationship.
Andin particular, I will reflect on that in relation to our trade and investmentrelationship.
Andgiven that in the room today we've got representatives, not exclusively, but inthe main, those of you involved in the business commerce investment, I'm veryhappy to do so.
It'simportant to recognize, as you've no doubt heard multiple times today, that,notwithstanding the fact that there are, from time to time, some differences ofview, as you would rightly expect to be the case, our trade and investmentrelationship between Australia and China is one that's broad, and one that'sdeep.
Andit builds on the building blocks that this Government has put in place now forsome time.
Ithas been opened by previous governments as well, and in that vein I acknowledgeCraig Emerson, who was here but has now popped out.
Craig'sa former Trade Minister with whom I've got a good relationship, and we haveworked in the past, closer together, and I'm very pleased to continue tosupport work that Craig does in that vein as well.
Butin terms of the bilateral relationship between the ACBC, or I should saybetween China and Australia in terms of the ACBC, I can say that it is a broadand deep relationship.
Butwe continue to see really strong growth. Really strong growth.
Andnotwithstanding the characterization, that we have seen, unfortunately, on arelatively consistent basis, in Australian media over the past several weeks,the fact is, trade relationship is strong.
NowI recognize that we have had some difficulties in some sectors.
I'vehad, for example, elements of the wine industry and in particular, I mentionedTWE who also is a public company gone to the market, and spoken about some ofthe additional paperwork that's been asked of them.
ButI can also say that since Michael Clarke, the CEO of Treasury Wine Estates,raised those concerns directly with me, in a telephone conversation severalweeks ago, we have been able to engage with Chinese authorities and to resolvethat issue.
Andthat's been the only company that has raised matters directly with me. Myoffice is aware of a couple of other businesses that have experienced somedelays because of requests for additional paperwork.
Butwhat I understand from our Beijing Post, as well as from other comments thathave been made by key bodies in the industry, is that those, too, have beenresolved.
Andthat is the point that I've focused on.
Becausein many respects that point reflects the fact that we have an excellent workingrelationship, and I couldn't help but notice the MFA made comments recently tospeak about the bilateral relationship.
Sothe MFA and China talked about it. I speak about it as Trade and InvestmentMinister.
Wespeak about how we are engaging in a constructive way and why we continue tosee great growth in terms of volume and value of exports between us both.
Butthat, unfortunately, is not the focus of the stories.
Thefocus of the stories tend to dwell on the occasional irritant that we see, andon the occasional difference.
Andin that vein, I reflect on a lunch that I had recently with my friend,Ambassador Cheng, when he travelled to the Gold Coast for us to be able to sitdown and break bread together.
Andto speak about what the two of us were hoping to achieve in terms of thebilateral relationship.
Neitherof us stepping back from the fact that there were instances of differences ofopinion, including for example, the South China Sea.
Butboth acknowledging that where there are differences of opinion, provided we'rerespectful and mindful of each other's national sovereignty, provided we'rerespectful and mindful of the fact that we will have different points of viewfrom time to time, we can engage in robust trade and investment, broad tradeand investment, healthy trade and investment, that is for the mutual benefit ofboth China and Australia.
AndI made the point, with respect to the Coalition, that we have sought to dothat, in particular, through the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
Andthat has seen not only in relation to our bilateral relationship under thatagreement, but also spilled over into other agreements between us.
Andfor me as Tourism Minister, of course, I will touch upon the fact that we havean open capacity, liberalized air services agreement between China andAustralia as well.
Andin fact, it's that open capacity agreement, I think the most liberalized thatChina has ever done with another country, but also as a testament to thestrength of our bilateral relationship.
Andthat's helping to drive now more than 1.4 million Chinese tourists toAustralia, which builds on the strength as well of the relationship that wehave in terms of Chinese students that come to Australia to study.
AndI've been particularly pleased to observe, over the past year or two, commentsthat President Xi Jinping has made both at Davos as well at the Belt and RoadForum, which I attended.
Commentswhich were built upon in Boao and comments which were also expanded upon at thePeople's Congress, where he spoke about his vision for China.
Andthe desire that China has to continue to open itself up to the world, to driveinvestment and to seek continued progress.
Inthat vein, I'm pleased to say that Australia should be a partner in thatjourney.
TheChina-Australia Free Trade Agreement is but one building block, an importantone, but it is but one building block.
Sowhat I want to do as Trade and Investment Minister is make sure we provide youwith the policy framework that all of you need as ACBC, to be able to continueto build on those people-to-people links, to build on that trade relationship,and to build on that investment relationship.
Andfor Australia and China to be able to do that together, I am very confident thatin the years ahead we'll continue to see a relationship that furtherstrengthens.
Ultimately,all of us invested in a stable, peaceful, and prosperous region.
Andlike President Xi, I hold the view that, where there is trade and investment,where there's people links, commercial links, there will be stability,prosperity, and peace.
Andthat is, ultimately, our objective.
Thiscomes at a time when we continue to see a lot of tumult in the global tradeenvironment.
Itcomes at a time where we've seen action and reaction from a number of countrieswith respect to trade barriers.
Andon every occasion, it's my view that the best things that China and Australiacould do is to continue to, not only speak about what we can do together todrive trade and investment, but also look at the actions we can take to furtherenhance trade and investment.
Iwas particularly pleased when Premier Li announced, for example, last year aspart of the visit, that there would be opportunities for additional Australianplants to be licensed for the export of chilled beef.
I'dcite that as a good example of what we can do together, to continue to send themessage that we are both countries committed to liberalising trade andinvestment, recognising that that will help to drive prosperity between ourpeople.
Andwhen you consider that there are more than 1 million Australians that claimChinese heritage and when you look at the impact of the Chinese community onthe Australian community, the rich contribution it's made to Australia'sculture, to our way of life, you can certainly understand why it's rapidly nowbecome the second most spoken language in Australia after English, and anothergood building block for us to continue to explore opportunities for ourpeople-to-people links to drive our investment links and, of course, our tradelinks.
So,could I say that we will continue to have, from time-to-time, differences ofopinion. I'm not afraid of differences of opinion. I embrace differences ofopinion.
WhatI want to make sure that we do is to continue to provide additional ballast forthe arguments that I make, for the arguments that China make about ways inwhich we can work together to make sure that this bilateral relationship, not onlygoes from strength to strength, but also can help to reinforce the message thatwe give to the world about how we can use trade and investment to reducebarriers and to drive a stronger relationship.
Thevery best way to do that is to demonstrate, through action, our commitment tothis trade and investment relationship.
Andthat means making sure that action matches rhetoric. And if we do that we'llachieve success.
Ultimately,we're all invested, as I've said, in the civility, peace, and prosperity ofthis region, and I look forward to walking down this pathway together withChina.