STEVEN CIOBO: Good morning to all of you. It's a pleasure for me to be here at the commencement of Australia Week in China. This is a week that's about opportunity. It's a week that's about opportunity for Australian business in China, but it's also a week of opportunity for Chinese business with Australia. We've got more than 1,000 delegates that are participating in this Australia Week in China. It's an opportunity for these delegates, not just large corporates, but also a lot of small to medium size enterprises, to explore opportunities of doing business with China, and in China. I know that there is a high level of aspiration from Australian-based businesses to build upon the recent strong gains that have been made out of the Australia-China Free Trade Agreement. I'm really pleased to be able to lead Australia Week in China because this represents an opportunity for the Government as well, to help create the right business conditions that’s conducive to driving jobs and to driving growth in Australia.
Fundamentally as well here in China I know that there’s a growing maturation of the consumer class in China, of course the growing middle class in China, an opportunity to be able to access Australian innovation and Aussie knowhow with respect to those business relationships as well. And also opportunities for Chinese businesses to look at who they can partner with in Australia, to look at developing relationships that they can rely upon, and a source of supply that they know is reliable from Australia as well.
Some of the key areas where I think Australia has some real advantages, lay in segments such as premium food and beverage, where we know that we provide a high quality clean and green food stuffs, food products, derivative products, as well as beverages that are going to be increasingly popular in China, as Chinese consumers continue to look for more discerning and better quality food stuffs. This is really exciting for an agricultural producer country like Australia, but it also on the cutting edge as well. We've got an innovation stream, opportunity for innovative Aussie businesses to be able to draw upon the broad and deep capital markets here in China. To look at opportunities to develop in a whole new range of industries like agri-tech and fin-tech for example, through an innovation stream.
We've also got delegates here that are participating in the health and aged care stream. These are people that want to build upon what is a global benchmark of the health and aged care sector in Australia. To be able to look at opportunities for expansion into China. We know that like many western counties, China is an aging population. What we'll see over time is that people will look for better quality aged care and they won't be able to solely rely upon family members to look after them. Australia has global benchmarks with respect to training, with respect to accreditation, with respect to facility design and facility construction. These are opportunities that we believe will bode very well in China as well. I just touch upon these as some of the examples of what we hope to be able to see take place here in Australia Week in China. As I said, there is a high level of ambition and aspiration from Aussie businesses into China and we know it will align with the increase in demands of Chinese consumers as the Chinese economy continues to grow and continues to diversify. Happy to take any questions.
REPORTER: Minister, [inaudible] are you sure that this year's Australia Week in China will be the first time to be an innovation-focused program? In what areas does Australia want to enhance cooperation with China to reflect innovation?
STEVEN CIOBO: We're excited because we've put a lot of focus in Australia on innovation. As our economy continues to diversify away from resources and energy, we want to be able to embrace more innovative approach to the development of new technology and new business models. We know the global phenomenon there is disruption and we'll continue to see the disruption of both the retail level, but also increasingly at an industrial level. We know that there is a lot of good ideas that flow from Australia, there is great ideas here in China as well and so by having a focus on innovation, we'll be able to build through collaboration, opportunities to grow that market through venture capital, through incubators, through innovatives and accelerators and that's what we're wanting to deliver upon as part of that innovation stream.
REPORTER: I noticed that this year's Australia Week in China, we'll deliver more than 150 events across 10 cities. Among all those activities, what are the highlights exactly compared with the first Australia Week in China in 2014?
STEVEN CIOBO: We've got a much larger number of delegates that are participating in Australia Week in China this time. Last time we had a number of CEOs that were here from large corporates. We still have a large corporate presence, but what there is this time is a lot more balance, because we have a lot of small to medium enterprises which represents I think the real, it's a bit of a cliché, but the real engine room of the Australian economy as well. It just reinforces that there is broad interest in Australia about doing business with China. We know that of course China also has strong interests in Australia. We continue to see for example, some very strong gains being made on tourism exports - that is the number of Chinese tourists wanting to come to Australia. We know there is high degree of aspiration among Chinese to visit Australia as well. We want to build upon that, we want to build upon as I said, the reputation that we have in the food and beverage industry with premium quality food, and premium quality beverage as well. These are the real opportunities and the differences between last 2014 Australia Week and 2016 Australia Week and I'm very confident that we'll see at the conclusion of this week, some good deals that have been done.
REPORTER: Mister, two questions. First of all we've had just out of three months of the Free Trade Agreement, how do think it's going so far? Often you find out hiccups and issues that come up when you started working these things, I wonder if there are any now and whether while you're in China here, you'll be involved in discussing any issues with your counterpart in Beijing? Second question is China's economy is slowing, that's caused a lot of concern to economic partners. Is this a question whether we're throwing a lot of energy at a relationship with a country that won't be able to produce what we might have hoped in the past in terms of engagement?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well, in terms of the implementation of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, we have in terms of the mechanics of it, an implementation taskforce, that's a body that's going to be looking at any implementation issues that I might arise as consequence of the ratification implementation of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. I have got to say, to put it in context, though, we are already seeing some good gains in terms of Australian exports into China. These are of course very early days, and I'm not going to say a trend is developing at this stage, but certainly some of the early numbers show that the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is delivering on expectations with respect to preferential market access that Australia has into China. Likewise we know that there will be benefits to Australian businesses, which flow from reduced business input costs into Australia, and that of course is also good news for Chinese businesses. Ultimately, the reason why these sorts of deals work is because it's a win-win outcome. It's mutually beneficial. It's good for Australia, it's good for China. Implementation issues as they arise, we'll deal with a methodical way and in a way that's actually going to deliver a good outcome for both Australia and for China. On your second question…
REPORTER: The Chinese economy –
STEVEN CIOBO: The Chinese economy. With respect to China, I have no doubt, and indeed, I think most commentators recognise that reduced pace of growth in China, given the size of the Chinese economy, still represents very significant opportunities. A lower level of growth in a much bigger economy today, is the equivalent of a 12 or 14 per cent growth rate on smaller Chinese economy of 10 years ago, therefore we know that there will continue to be strong growth in China. The Chinese Central Government is very focused upon growing wealth for the Chinese people, that’s creating opportunities which is reflected in the fact that we have a 1,000 delegates who also know instinctively on the street that there is tremendous opportunity here. So Australia will of course maintain a diversified approach to trade, we’re an outward-looking nation, we've got opportunities in a range of markets, but an important market will be and will continue to be China, and their growth story, I have no doubt, will continue for some time yet.
REPORTER: Thank you. I have two questions. First is, there are some [inaudible] counterfeit companies leaving the Chinese market because the cost of fighting against the fake products are too high – will you have similar concerns or have you discussed about the remedy to react? The second one is what do you think about China's investment and purchase of the Australian companies? Will there be tighter policies or just [inaudible] field?
STEVEN CIOBO: With respect to intellectual property and the protection intellectual property, I think China has made real leaps and gains in the past recent years around putting in place a framework that protects intellectual property. Now of course we recognise that there are always threats from counterfeit products, those exist; you have to deal with them at any market place. With respect to China, through collaborative approach by both the Australian Government and the Chinese Government, I think that issue will decrease over time, so counterfeit goods are less of an issue in the future than they have historically been. With respect to additional opportunities, though, and foreign investment framework that applies in Australia, best sum it up as this: Australia is open for business. We welcome foreign investment into Australia because foreign investment that is in Australia’s national interest is good for driving jobs and good for driving growth in Australia. Our approach to foreign capital has been consistent for more than 100 years. We've relied on foreign capital to grow Australia's wealth and to make us the country that we are today and we'll continue to rely on foreign capital that grows our economy in the future, that drives jobs and drives growth.
Obviously that's not a free-for-all approach though, we do expect that investment into Australia should align with Australia's national interest and certain should not be contrary to Australia's national interest. Fundamentally, the injection of capital into Australia, irrespective of where it is from, whether it's American, British, Chinese or Singapore – this is investment that helps to drive employment opportunities in Australia, helps to see more often than not the refurbishment or investment in new capital opportunities such as new factories, the expansion of facilities, greater economies of scale, and this fundamentally, means Australia becomes more competitive in those segments of the market as well. Any other questions? No. Perfect. Alright. Thanks everybody, I appreciate it.
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