ACBC Chairman’s Column: Forging Ahead

As high-level visits and second track diplomacy have become more regular features of the Australia-China bilateral relationship, the Australia China Business Council has continued to play a leading role in providing the interface between industry and government that will drive greater trade and investment ties over the years ahead writes ACBC Chairman, Frank Tudor.

In the last issue of this magazine as I summarised the Chinese Ambassador’s evaluation of our multidimensional relationship, the ACBC was preparing to convene the largest gathering of business and political leaders in the 37 year history of bilateral relations. In partnership with the Australian and Chinese Governments, the ACBC was the principal organiser of the Australia China Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum at Parliament
House in Canberra on June 21.

The Forum coincided with the state visit of Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping and featured keynote addresses from Vice-President Xi, then Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Treasurer Wayne Swan, Ministers Smith, Ferguson and Crean.

Top CEOs and Executives discussed major issues in two panel sessions dedicated to financial services and natural resources. Panelists included:

Mr Yang Kaisheng, President, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
Mr Li Lihui, President, Bank of China
Mr Mike Smith OBE, CEO, ANZ Banking Corporation
Mr Craig Dunn, CEO, AMP
Mr Fu Chengyu, President, China National Offshore Oil Corporation
Mr Shen Heting, President, Metallurgical Corporation of China
Mr Doug Ritchie, Chief Executive Energy, Rio Tinto
The Hon Richard Court AC, Former Premier of Western Australia

The panel sessions were facilitated by the ACBC Chief Representative in China and Chairman of Sigiriya Capital, Paul Glasson and Director General of the China Investment Promotion Agency Mr Liu Zuozhang.

The Forum was attended by over 550 businesspeople and 30 CEOs from both sides of the bilateral relationship.

The Council was delighted to learn at the Forum from Foreign Minister Stephen Smith that both governments had at last committed to institutionalising a one and a half track dialogue through the creation of the Australia China Forum.

Delegates also heard from the Deputy Administrator of the PRC National Energy Agency Mr Qian Zhimin, the CEO of Hai’er, Mr Wu Kesong and the CEO of Telstra International, Mr Tarek Robbiati.

One month later, in partnership with the Australia Network, the Council hosted the Australia China Business Leaders Dialogue at the Australian Pavilion at Shanghai World Expo 2010.
The dialogue was facilitated by veteran ABC journalist Jim Middleton and was part of a series of major interviews broadcast from Shanghai with leading industry figures. Panelists discussed a range of issues including progress towards a free trade agreement, China’s currency revaluation, Chinese investment into Australia, China’s go-global strategy, Australian investment into China, information and communications technology, research and development and banking and financial services.

In addition to myself, panellists included MCC President, Shen Heting, Australia’s
Ambassador to China, Dr Geoff Raby and senior representatives from leading Chinese and Australian companies.

The dialogue was the Council’s fourth national event at the Australian pavilion following the June Low Carbon Buildings and Communities Industry Forum jointly produced with UNSW, Lend Lease and NSW, a luncheon with select Chinese provincial governments and the VIP Gala Dinner of the ACBC Qantas Shanghai Trade Mission.

Delegates attended a Business Matching Session hosted by the Shanghai Municipal Small and Medium Enterprise Service Centre. The Service Centre is a membership-based organisation dedicated to a range of areas including comprehensive business matching, sourcing credit and financial services and providing training programs.

In addition to the event at the Expo site itself, delegates attended a business summit chaired by the Chief of the Shanghai New Pudong District Government and Secretary-
General of the Chinese Communist Party of the Shanghai New Pudong District, Mr Dai
Haibo. The agency addressed delegates on investment and collaboration opportunities between Australian companies and their local counterparts.

With four members of the delegation from the architecture and urban planning arena, there was substantial discussion on Australian expertise in urban renewal and sustainable design.
Delegates also attended ACBC National Sponsor Huawei Technologies’ newly opened state-of-the-art research and development facility in Pudong and attended a briefing hosted by Huawei’s Senior Vice-President Mr Qu Wenchu.

The Sino-Singaporean joint-venture Suzhou Industrial Park is home to more than 40 Fortune 500 companies and is a major destination for more than US$13 billion in registered foreign capital.

The Australian Government also actively participated in the program, with Austrade’s
Regional Director for North Asia, Laurie Smith, briefing delegates, and Australian Consul-General to Shanghai, Tom Connor providing a keynote address at a major business forum. The Forum brought together government, industry, the media and academics for a comprehensive all day program covering the fundamentals of doing business in China, legal issues, Shanghai’s industrial structure and economic outlook related to the 12th Five Year Plan, the political economy of China’s steel industry and investment opportunities in the Yangtze River Delta.

All delegates are entitled to receive an exclusive ACBC facilitated follow-up process, whereby the ACBC will provide the initial follow up to any contacts of interest obtained throughout the mission and assist with the communication process.

ACBC gratefully acknowledges the support of Qantas Airways and Qantas’ Queensland
Sales Manager Mr Derek Baines in particular – to the staff at Qantas Travel, Qantas
Holidays and the delightful Qantas Cabin Crew – we salute you.

* To learn more about the Australia China Business Council, visit the website: www.acbc.com.au

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