Topics: Launch of AustCham Shanghai, Australia-China trade relationship.

6 November 2019

Simon Birmingham: Well thanks so much, Jack, for that welcome, and Craig to you and the AustCham Shanghai family, and thank you for your invitation to be here with you today to mark this wonderful step forward. Brave step forward as well on the part of AustCham to be able to open your own Australia House and to provide a basis and a premise from which Australian businesses can operate and succeed and we trust into the future. And can I acknowledge Alexandra and the Anquan Group, and thank you so much for the partnership, the support that is of such value in realising this. And in doing so, can I also acknowledge of course our ambassador and chief executive of Austrade, Consul General, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

I’m fond of times of talking about the economic miracle that is China. I say so because it helps as Trade Minister to talk about the benefits of openness, and to talk about the benefits of openness in ways and opening up of markets and trade flows in ways that go beyond the pure economic statistics. It’s nice to talk about more than $200 billion dollars’ worth of exports and record flows in particular goods, and opening the services and flows of investment. But what really matters, and is something that Prime Minister Morrison in an Australian context is always keen to do, is rather than just talk about the economic statistics or the number of jobs that are created, is to talk about what it means. What it means when you have a strong economy and when you have jobs growth. And what it means of course is that you have greater prosperity. Greater prosperity, you have the opportunity for people to enjoy a higher standard of living. Better education opportunities, better lifestyles, better health care and health services and opportunities. And they are the tangible benefits of the economic miracle that is China. And then the tangible benefits of opening up markets and creating trade flows. Hundreds of millions of people across China and our region in the Indo-Pacific, across Asia, have been lifted out of poverty and enjoy now better standards of living, better education opportunities, greater equality, better health care. And those are the opportunities and the benefits that we want to see continued.

And the economic miracle of China has in part been fueled because of the complementarity of the Australia-China relationship. We have from the early days been able to be a partner in supplying the resources necessary to fuel the growth in a booming economy. Increasingly, as we see the growth in those living standards, we’re a partner in helping to feed and meet the consumer needs. And even more so as we see the development of new technology, new services. And we are now a great partner together in terms of new areas of economic activity.

And I have no doubt that Australia House here will be a wonderful place in which new businesses, existing businesses from Australia can seek to be able to build and fuel that partnership, that complementary partnership with their Chinese counterparts even further. I want to pay tribute to the many of you who are here and have driven that partnership. From a Government context, I often reflect upon the fact that the trade deals we do, policy we undertake, the diplomatic engagement, simply opens doors. But business chooses when and where and how you walk through those doors. You, in forging your relationships, seize those opportunities in terms of the partnership with businesses in other countries. And this week of course we celebrate the fact that the Chinese Government is playing host to the second China International Import Export. And in doing so, they are welcoming more than 200 Australian businesses to once again participate CIIE, to have access to thousands of buyers, customers and other businesses across China who will come to CIE between now and Sunday and that is a wonderful opportunity for those who have a strong presence already or are seeking to develop a presence to expand that relationship with the China market. And I know that our businesses are grateful for that opportunity, and as a government, we are grateful that that opportunity is provided. And we welcome the fact that yesterday, at the opening ceremony, I heard President Xi recommit to the opening of the China economy, to continued advances in areas such as intellectual property protections and the types of progress that help to ensure those business relationships can have confidence to grow further into the future.

And it comes at a time where we are working hard to ensure our valued partnership with China is one that we can all continue to build upon. On Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison had the opportunity for extensive discussions with Premier Li Keqiang. They are valuable discussions that allow us at a government level to keep working on ensuring that the door stays open, to borrow that analogy again, that we maintain the capacity for all aspects of the relationship, whether it be at a business level or indeed the many increasing people to people and cultural ties. And I note our friends from the AFL here today as well who fly the flag for us in what is building now is Australia’s premier festival of Australia that we undertake in China. And I look forward next year to the opportunity for us to build upon this year’s success of running some 40 different events across 10 different cities throughout China, demonstrating our commitment not just to the breadth of the economic relationship but also those sporting ties, the cultural ties epitomised recently by the [indistinct] of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and many others.

So can I congratulate again AustCham Shanghai on your leadership in establishing this new facility. I’d love to say wonderful things about the facility, but I haven’t seen it yet. But however, I am sure they are splendid facilities and certainly in talking about businesses that will be co-located here, I’m delighted to hear that there’s a high premium being placed on ensuring there’s some Australian coffee available on the ground floor, which I’m sure for those in the surrounding business and districts will only add to the rich love of Australia and Australian culture and the diversity of our culture, just as we have for China and their culture.

Thanks so much for the chance to be with you today, it’s my pleasure to join you all.