JOURNALIST: Given the slightly rocky diplomatic situation in the past year between the two countries, in your view, how important is this game and this concept of football diplomacy? And if you have translate-

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, thank you, Bill. Well, I certainly wouldn't agree with the assertion in your question. The relationship between Australia and China is a strong relationship. Our trade and investment ties are broad and they're deep. This visit that I'm on now embraces this sport contest on Sunday, the AFL game as well as obviously what we're doing around the CIAL food innovation exhibition, as well as discussions we're putting in place for the forthcoming China International Import Expo. The relationship is one that sees Australia and China finding avenues to work constructively. Our relationship has seen very significant improvements in prosperity in both countries as a direct result of trade and investment. This game, of course, will affirm the strong cultural links and people-to-people ties between Australia and China. It's a great example of showcasing some Aussie culture in China. And the fact that we've got a sell-out crowd, and 50 per cent of the crowd being Chinese nationals is, in my mind, an affirmation that there is sincere and genuine interest in China, in Australia. They know Australia, that's why we get such large numbers of tourists from China who want to visit Australia. And I believe that this has been a terrific opportunity for me to come back to Shanghai and for us to continue the ongoing dialogue between Australia and China.

JOURNALIST: Hi, it's Michael from the Australian Financial Review, just got a question for the Minister. Treasury Wine Estates, our biggest wine exporter to China, has said this morning it's having a few issues getting customs clearance or there's delays clearing customs for some of its products in China. Are you aware of this and are you aware of any other Australian companies having similar issues, at the moment? And if so, is this something you will raise if you meet any Chinese officials during the visit? Thank you.

STEVEN CIOBO: So Mike raised with me, the CEO of TWE, raised with me in the last 24, 36 hours ago, or thereabouts some concerns they had with product coming into China. My understanding, bear in mind, it's only been a relatively short period of time, is that the questions that are being asked relate to certificates of origin. Having had this brought to my attention in the last as I said, 36 hours or thereabouts, I'm mobilized, my office has mobilized. The Australian diplomatic mission here is mobilized and we will look at precisely what the situation is and if we can get to the bottom of it. I have, from time to time, had other matters raised with me, but those other matters I would describe as sporadic, and they are not inconsistent with the sporadic nature of issues that businesses have raised with me over the past three years. And I would also stress, not confined purely to China, either. So to go to your issue about TWE, that's to answer that aspect. The broader answer about businesses, more generally, I'd characterize, as I just did about it being sporadic and not something that's particularly unique about China.    

JOURNALIST: [inaudible], so how can it do? Can it actually interact with each other and produce [inaudible]?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, I agree with you. I think that sports has the unique ability to bring people together. AFL is the biggest sporting code in Australia. It has tremendous support, culturally we love it and we believe Chinese nationals can take the time to find out more about the game, they're exposed to it through the terrific schools program that's being run. They'll have the opportunity to see what a great game it is, and what terrific fun children can have playing it. It's great for fitness, it's great as well for building team spirit, and it's a good opportunity for Australia and China to continue to build stronger bonds between our people.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible] Tourism Australia have the intention to bring other sports into the Chinese market?

STEVEN CIOBO: So, tourism to Australia from China is now our largest partnership, we have around 1.4 million Chinese that take the time to come to Australia every year. Importantly, we have around 500,000 Australians, just under, that travel to China every year. What we can do together around sports I think is significant, we already have a number of events where we work closely together, I think that the success of AFL, of being at the very forefront of stronger cultural links and their success will help, absolutely, pave the way for additional sports down the track. We've seen, historically, some experimentation, we saw, a number of years ago, Supercars, the V8 Supercars, for example. I think what matters is to get the building blocks right, to build up support at the grassroots level, and I think that the real initiative that will have a big dividend, and the AFL has undertaken, is to involve schoolchildren because if they grow up with appreciation for the game, then that builds a solid platform upon which you can build the rest.

Media enquiries

  • Trade Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7420
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555