Keynote Speech at CCCA 2023 Annual General Meeting By H.E. XIAO Qian Ambassador Of the People’s Republic of China to Australia

2023-12-07 13:50

Distinguished Mr. David Smith MP,

The Hon Kevin Hogan MP, Shadow Minister for Trade and Tourism,

Ms. Kristy Gowans, Head of Electricity Division, DCCEEW,

Ms. Georgina Prasad, Acting Assistant Secretary of Foreign Investment Division, Commonwealth Treasury,

Ms. REN Li, President of CCCA,

Members and delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon!

It is my great pleasure to join you today for the 2023 Annual General Meeting held by the China Chamber of Commerce in Australia (CCCA). I highly appreciate the presence of David, Kevin, Kristy, and Georgina. Your attendance not only inspires member companies, but also helps for the better understanding to the Australian government’s economic and trade policies. I also highly appreciate the presence of Consuls General or Acting Consuls General from the five Consulates General in Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. It’s the first time in history that the heads of Chinese missions in Canberra and other major cities in Australia are attending this annual meeting of CCCA, which will further boost the confidence of Chinese enterprises to conduct more economic and trade ties with Australia.

Bilateral relationship of China and Australia is witnessing critical moments. Less than a month ago, Prime Minister Albanese paid a successful visit to China. Leaders of the two countries reached broad consensus on the furthering of China-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership. The Statement on joint outcomes of the China-Australia annual leaders’ meeting was issued, drawing a blueprint for the future development of bilateral relations in the next stage. China is ready for making joint efforts with Australia, to proceed from the common interests of the two countries, and pursue a bilateral relationship that features treating each other on an equal footing, seeking common ground while shelving differences and mutually beneficial cooperation, to better serve the interests of our two countries and two peoples.

China’s development is at a critical period of significance. China is now advancing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization. In spite of the complex external environment, China’s economy has not only withstood the pressure, but also stabilized its scale and improved its quality. In the first 10 months of this year, China’s total retail sales of consumer goods increased by 6.9% year-on-year, and the growth rate of the value added of large-scale industrial enterprises grew by 4.1% year-on-year. There were more than 40,000 newly established foreign-invested enterprises nationwide, a year-on-year rise of 32.1%. In the first three quarters, China’s GDP increased by 5.2% year on year. Statistics are telling us the fundamentals of China’s long-term economic growth remain unchanged. China’s middle-income population will reach 800 million by 2035, and such enormous market and huge domestic demand potential will further contribute to China’s economic development.

China-Australia bilateral economic and trade ties is mutually beneficial in nature and has made great achievements. In terms of trade in goods, the trade volume between the two countries has increased from USD 72 million in 1972 to over USD 220 billion in 2022, marking a growth more than 3,000 times. China’s cumulative investment in Australia totals nearly USD 100 billion. China has been Australia’s largest export destination and the largest source of imports, and China has been Australia’s largest trading partner for 14 consecutive years. Likewise, Australia has become China’s seventh largest trading partner. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), in the first three quarters of this year, the total trade in goods between China and Australia was closed to AUD 228 billion. While Australia’s international trade in goods fell by 2.3% year-on-year, China-Australia trade in goods went up and grew by 10.3%; Australia’s trade surplus with China was AUD 73.4 billion, accounting for 77.2% of the total Australia’s international trade surplus.

In terms of trade in services, China has remained Australia’s largest export destination for trade in services for many years. In the 2021-22 financial year, Australia’s total service exports to China recorded above AUD 8.6 billion, taking more than 14% of the total. Australia’s total travel exports to China achieved AUD 4.2 billion, over 18% of the total. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Australia peaked at 1.4 million in 2019, consuming AUD 2.1 billion, and the expenditure of Chinese students in Australia came to AUD 12 billion.

While supporting China’s reform and opening up as well as economic and social development, the pragmatic economic and trade cooperation between China and Australia has also advanced the prosperity of Australia’s mining, agriculture, tourism, education and other fields, creating a substantial number of jobs and considerable tax revenue for Australia, making its economy more resilient and robust. These outcomes cannot be harvested without the remarkable contributions of Chinese enterprises in Australia, as well as the hard work of all entrepreneurs here today.

China and Australia are major powers in the Asia-Pacific region. Our two countries are highly complementary in economic structures and there is huge potential for economic and trade cooperation. China enjoys an enormous market in demand, a complete industrial system in supply, and a large number of high-caliber workers and entrepreneurs in talents. Australia is home to rich and high-quality mineral resources, world-leading specialized expertise, a highly developed service industry and a well-established legal system. We should give full play to the potential of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), to extend ties in emerging areas such as climate change and green economy while consolidating our cooperation in traditional sectors. It is important for China and Australia to work together to provide a sound business environment for the investment and operation of enterprises of both countries, delivering a new broad space for economic and trade cooperation.

The world economy is facing prominent uncertainties and destabilizing factors. Against this backdrop, there is a lot that China and Australia can work on together to carry out mutually beneficial cooperation, so as to not only achieving common development, but also contributing to the valuable stability to the world. Chinese enterprises in Australia are an important driving force in promoting the continuous development of China-Australia economic and trade cooperation. It is my hope and belief that CCCA and its member companies will seize the opportunity to promote China-Australia economic and trade ties in an innovative manner, to achieve new and greater progress in accordance with the clear directions set by the leaders of the two countries. It is also my hope and belief that CCCA will play its role as a bridge between companies and the government, continue to build consensus among member companies, and provide coordination and services, so as to make greater contributions to advancing the high-quality development of China-Australia economic and trade cooperation.

The Chinese Embassy and Chinese Consulates General in Australia will continue to render our support and assistance to CCCA in its efforts to promote further economic and trade relationship between China and Australia.

Thank you.