Shanghai Expo business events grab early running
While smaller than expected crowd numbers marked the first month of Expo, the Australian Government’s business program led the way in showcasing Australian capability to Chinese business leaders, writes Austrade’s China Country Manager Christopher Wright.
Despite a slow May, Expo organisers would be pleased to see visitor numbers now rising to levels that will almost certainly surpass the 1967 Canadian attendance record of 50 million people.
For Australia, the quiet, almost anticlimactic first weeks of May did not hinder strong interest in our distinctive rust coloured Pavilion, or Expo’s appeal as a platform to foster closer trade engagement and enhance understanding of Australian business strengths amongst key Chinese decision makers.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), coordinating Australia’s national presence at the Expo provides the Pavilion’s dedicated VIP area to host state and federal business initiatives in a range of sectors.
Kicking off the Austrade program was an agribusiness event on May 16 that heralded the start of the first Australian agribusiness mission to western China. This study tour focused on opportunities in the arid but agriculturally important region of Xinjiang. The mission took advantage of the Australian pavilion at Expo to highlight to a range of invited Chinese customers Australian expertise relevant to meeting China’s agricultural challenges.
On May 19, Trade Minister Crean (pictured above) and Victorian Trade and Industry Minister Jacinta Allen both spoke at the two-day “Liveable Sustainable Cities of the Future” forum on Australian strengths in green building, including advanced and innovative integrated building design and project management, held by Austrade and the Victorian Government. The keynote speaker was Mr Tony Arnel, Chair of the World Green Building Council and the Green Building Council, with senior representatives from the Australian construction and design sector including BlueScope Steel, Bovis Lend Lease, Leighton, WorleyParsons, Woods Bagot, PTW, Hassell and the Australian Institute of Architects.
The Mayor of Changsha Mr Zhang Jianfei also addressed the forum on his city’s progress in implementing sustainable design strategies. Austrade has signed MOUs on sustainable urban planning with Changsha and Wuhan laying the foundation for commercial partnerships.
On May 19 Trade Minister Simon Crean also hosted a dinner for Chinese financial services regulators and policy makers from across China in order to draw to their attention Australia’s world’s best-practice financial regulation systems, with ASIC Commissioner Greg Medcraft giving a keynote address explaining how a strong regulatory framework had helped Australia weather the Global Financial Crisis. As China continues to develop its own system of financial regulation and investigates the most effective practices from abroad, Commissioner Medcraft’s insights on Australia’s experience found a receptive Chinese audience.
On May 20 Mr Crean launched Australia’s new brand ‘Australia Unlimited’ internationally, A$20 million initiative over four years to promote a more sophisticated image of Australia to China and beyond. In his launch speech Minister Crean noted that: “Everything Australia Unlimited is intended to promote to the rest of the world will be on display here at the Expo for the next six months – our creativity, our innovation, the quality in all we do. I cannot think of a more appropriate time and place to be launching Brand Australia.”
In support of the Automotive sector Minister Crean also witnessed the signing of a Framework for Cooperation later that day with the Anhui Provincial Government (pictured right) – an outcome of Minister Crean and Senator Carr’s visit to China in July 2009. The framework provides practical substance to the high-level commitment reached between the two Australian Ministers and the Governor of Anhui Province to foster collaboration on technology, commercial opportunities and partnerships in the automotive and agricultural sectors.
The ceremony coincided with a trade and investment mission of Australian automotive companies to China, jointly organised by Austrade and the Victorian government.
On the same day, an MOU between Tongji University and Auto CRC/La Trobe was signed, witnessed by the Victorian Minister for Industry and Trade Jacinta Allen.
The last event in May was an Environment and Water Mission involving 16 Australian companies focusing on Australian environmental and water capabilities under the Australia-China Wanwu Eco-country initiative. After touring three Chinese cities over five days the event culminated in a VIP function at the Australia Pavilion.
High profile speakers at the event included Professor Gary Jones, Chief Executive of eWater CRC, Dr. David Garman, President of the International Water Association and Dr. Ravi Naidu, Managing Director of CRC Care. Chinese guest speakers included Ms Tang Qiao, Chief Engineer of the Chengdu Sha River Restoration Project and Mr Zhang Zhengyu, Deputy Chief of the Department of Pollution Control for the National Ministry of Environmental Protection.
On June 3 and 4, Austrade partnered with the Australian Treasury to conduct an Australian Financial Services Summit focusing on Australian expertise, launched at a gala dinner by Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan and senior Australian and Chinese executives from the banking, securities and fund management sectors. The Treasurer had opened ANZ’s new Shanghai branch earlier in the day and ANZ CEO Mike Smith was also in attendance at the dinner.
On June 4, the Summit proper got under way with speeches and panel discussions showcasing the success and capabilities of the Australian financial system and its commercial players. Senior bank economist from ANZ, CBA and NAB conducted a panel discussion focussing on the impressive performance of the Australian economy and banking system, while Australian funds management executives made up another panel which looked at Australia’s highly developed investment management industry and the investment environment and opportunities in both China and Australia.
With four months still to run and 200 business events in total to be held over the six months of Expo – including more than 30 Austrade events – all signs indicate a strong and ongoing Australian business presence at the world’s biggest event in 2010. ■
To see the full calendar of upcoming Austrade events visit: www.austrade.gov.au/shanghaiexpo2010
To read more about the Australian Financial Services Summit click here.