Victoria and China: An enduring and growing relationship

Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu has launched Australia China Business Week in Melbourne with a speech outlining the state’s plans to enhance trade opportunities with China and suggesting that in years to come, China will be as much a part of the lives of Victorians, as football.

Drawing on the historical significance Victoria has played in attracting Chinese and Chinese investment into Australia, Victorian premier Ted Baillieu told a business lunch at Melbourne’s Windsor Hotel that Victoria has “led the way when it comes to China.”
 
Mr Baillieu said there were more than 60,000 Chinese-born Victorians and about 200,000 Victorians who claim Chinese ancestry, emphasising the state’s relationship with China was not just about trade engagement.
 
“It’s always been multi-dimensional with an emphasis on educational and cultural links,” Mr Baillieu said.
 
Mr Baillieu made his first trip to China as Premier in September 2011.
 
During his speech, Mr Baillieu outlined the country’s massive economic growth and the opportunities it presents to Victorian and Australian businesses, including citing an Economist Intelligence Unit report ranking global cities by economic strength and measuring GDP, growth rate and purchasing power – 12 of the top 20 cities are in China.
 
Mr Baillieu questioned whether Australia had fully harnessed the potential that the Chinese market presents for Australian products and services.
 
“Integration with global markets enhances economic growth and prosperity and Victoria’s future will be determined by the steps we take now to position ourselves to take advantage of the opportunities,” Mr Baillieu said.
 
“The mindset of Victorian business must therefore be one of internationalisation and engagement with Asia on a scale like never before.”
 
He said given the importance of government-to-government relationships in Asia, Victoria had a unique role to play in assisting business achieve its objectives by introducing and supporting Victorian expertise, but that as a nation, more needed to be done.
 
“What’s not helpful for attracting investment is Commonwealth policy uncertainty around leadership, the mining tax, the carbon tax and changes to withholding tax,” Mr Baillieu said.
 
“It sends the wrong signals.”
 
He said Victoria would be “proactively” articulating the investment value propositions of the state to Chinese investors.
 
“We’re determined to see more high profile companies establishing their regional headquarters in Melbourne to grow our economy and increase employment.”
 
Mr Baillieu cited Chinese companies including the Bank of China, financial services company KVB Junlan, logistics company, Cosco Oceania, and ChemChina which have set up their Australian headquarters in Victoria.
 
“What this means for Victoria with its diverse economy underpinned by skills, knowledge and know-how, is that the demand for our expertise, our services, our education, our agricultural produce, will be greater than ever before,” he said.
 
“While China will need to meet the demand of its emerging middle class and a meteoric rise in personal consumption – which by 2020 will be two thirds of the United States’ consumption level. This is great news for Victoria and, in particular, Victorian businesses.”
 
Mr Baillieu said there were opportunities in food and beverage, education, automotive and advanced engineering, ICT, sustainable urban development, biotechnology, research and development, tourism and professional services such as financial and legal services. 
In line with its focus on China, Victoria recently opened a representative office in Beijing – its fourth office in China behind Shanghai, Nanjing and Hong Kong.
 
In September Mr Baillieu will lead a super trade mission to China, anticipating more than 400 Victorian businesses and organisations from a diverse range of sectors including automotive, education, ICT, urban systems design, tourism, commercial aerospace, aviation, health and life sciences, food and beverage will participate.
 
A Victorian Government project in conjunction with ANZ will also deliver workshops for Victorian businesses seeking to exploit opportunities for trading in RMB. The workshops will be held in Victoria and in China as part of the super trade mission later this year.
 
Mr Baillieu used the launch of China Business Week to launch the State’s China tourism initiative. To read more, click here.
 

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