Recently, we were delighted to host, together with the Australia China business Council (ACBC), Dr Stephanie Fahey, Chief Executive Officer of Austrade, for a cocktail reception to hear her observations about the opportunities for Australian and Chinese companies.

Dr Stephanie Fahey discussed Austrade’s recognition of and support for the Australia and China trade and investment relationship, and was interviewed by ACBC NSW President Michael Clifton.

The key takeaways of the discussion were:

  • Australia-China bilateral commercial relationship remains strong: Despite recent headwinds, the commercial and business relationship remains very strong. A quarter of Australia’s trade is with China, and one third of Australia’s exports go there. In light of the recent fifth round of tariff reductions, the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) continues to realise benefits for Australian exporters.
  • Australia is an attractive investment destination: Despite China’s capital controls, Australia is still seen as an attractive destination for Chinese ODI. In particular, there is mutual benefit from Chinese investment into Australian industries such as agriculture and food, renewable energy, infrastructure and healthcare.
  • Seeking out good partnerships is key: There are complexities and regulatory barriers for Australian companies seeking to do business in China, and vice versa. Finding the right business partner is crucial for success and value generation.
  • Australian companies should capitalise on diversity: It is important for listed companies and organisations in Australia to include those with Asian backgrounds to senior management and boards, so that those organisations can leverage on the advantages of having bicultural and bilingual skills at the senior level. It is also important to upskill directors and executives in Asian experience and knowledge.
  • Education as an investment: Parallels were drawn between delivering quality education to international students in Australia and making an investment. Just as with good investments that pay dividends, delivering quality education and promoting the employability of international students means that those students, are incentivised to advocate for the Australia-China relationship.