Consolidate the Foundation for China-Australia Economic and Trade Cooperation, to Steadily Promote the Development of Bilateral Relations

2024-06-07 19:31

Keynote speech by H.E. XIAO Qian

Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Australia

At the 2024 Australia-China Economic Cooperation Forum

 Melbourne, June 6, 2024

Distinguished Mr. Paul HAMER MP,

Mr. John PESUTTO, Opposition Leader of Victoria,

Mr. Nicholas REECE, Deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne,

Chairman Justin PAN,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to attend the 2024 Australia-China Economic Cooperation Forum hosted by the CCCA Melbourne Branch. Thank you Justin, for your kind invitation. This year marks the 10th anniversary of President Xi Jinping’s successful state visit to Australia and the establishment of China-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. With the theme of “Join Forces, Build Futures”, this forum is of great practical significance. We are expecting the forum to build a bridge of exchanges, open a window for cooperation, and promote China and Australia to join hands and embark on futures of mutual benefit and win-win.

We are heading for a future where high-level exchanges between China and Australia are gradually getting back on track, leading bilateral relations to develop in the right direction. In November 2022, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Albanese held a positive and constructive meeting in Bali, charting the course for the improvement and development of bilateral relations. During PM Albanese’s visit to China last November, the leaders of the two countries once again had in-depth exchange of views on issues of strategic and overarching importance and critical to the direction of China-Australia relations in the long-run, providing important guidance for the continued improvement and development of China-Australia relations. Premier Li Qiang held talks with PM Albanese and reached broad consensus on further promoting the China-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The Statement on Joint Outcomes of the China-Australia Annual Leaders’ Meeting drew a blueprint for the development of China-Australia relations in the next stage. In March this year, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi paid an official visit to Australia and held the Seventh Foreign and Strategic Dialogue with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong. In April, Chinese Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao and Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell co-chaired the 17th session of the China-Australia Joint Ministerial Economic Committee. Next, I believe senior leaders from both sides will engage more with each other, facilitate more dialogues to deepen political mutual trust, and make cooperation continue to be the mainstream of our bilateral ties. We are ready to work with Australia to build a relationship based on equality, seeking common ground while shelving differences and win-win cooperation in the common interests of the two countries, so as to bring more benefits to the two countries and two peoples.

We are heading for a future where China’s economic recovery and growth continue to be boosted, shoring up confidence in promoting economic and trade cooperation. Last week, IMF upgraded its forecast for China’s economic growth to 5% this year, 0.4 percentage points higher than its previous forecast. In the first quarter of this year, China’s GDP reached 29.6 trillion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 5.3%, which is one of the fastest growth rates among major economies in the world. In the first four months of 2024, both the import and export of China’s trade in goods increased significantly. Exports were 7.81 trillion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 4.9%; while imports were 6 trillion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 6.8%. Domestic investment and consumer demand are rising. These data show that China is still the main engine driving the global economy, and the fundamentals of its long-term sound growth remain unchanged. We have full confidence in achieving the annual economic growth target of around 5%. By 2035, China’s middle-income group will reach 800 million, activating the super-sized market and huge domestic demand potential, further promoting China’s economic growth and providing more opportunities for countries around the world, including Australia.

We are heading for a future where China-Australia economic and trade ties have become increasingly close, injecting impetus into broadening the prospects for cooperation. China-Australia economic and trade cooperation serves as both the ballast and the propeller of the overall bilateral relations. Since 2009, China has been Australia’s largest trading partner for 15 consecutive years. It is both Australia’s largest export destination and its largest source of imports. Meanwhile, Australia has become China’s 7th largest trading partner. In terms of trade in goods, according to ABS, our bilateral trade volume in goods exceeded 300 billion AUD in 2023, a year-on-year increase of 8.2%. In terms of trade in services, China has remained Australia’s largest export destination for many years in a row. In 2022/23 financial year, Australia’s total service exports to China exceeded 10.9 billion AUD, accounting for 11.4% of its total service trade exports. China is an important source market for Australia’s tourism industry. Last year, Australia received more than 550 thousand Chinese tourists, in which 66 thousand Chinese tourists arrived in December. As of the end of 2023, China’s total investment in Australia was 58.5 billion USD, of which the stock of direct investment in Australia was 30.9 billion USD, making China Australia’s fifth largest source of direct investment.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

The economic structures of China and Australia are highly complementary, and there is huge potential for economic and trade cooperation. Australia is the world’s largest exporter of iron ore, while China is the largest steel consumer, with nearly 60% of iron ore imported from Australia. In April this year, after China and Australia successfully resolved the wine trade dispute, Australian wine exports to China have grown rapidly, increasing by more than 7 times year-on-year, making Australia China’s third largest wine supplier. A few days ago, 5 major Australian beef exporters resumed exports to China after meeting China’s import inspection and quarantine requirements. I noticed that some Australian media and the industry warmly welcome this progress, and it is expected that the Australian beef industry will usher in better opportunities. Facts have proven that strengthening China-Australia economic and trade cooperation will bring tangible benefits to the business communities of both countries, effectively promote steady economic growth and benefit the two peoples. I hope to see more and more high-quality Australian products on Chinese people’s consumption lists in the future. We need to build on the success story of China-Australia cooperation and maintain bilateral trade cooperation and economic ties. In this regard, Chinese and Australian entrepreneurs and businesses can do a lot. Here, I would like to make three suggestions.

First, to deepen cooperation in traditional fields.

In recent years, China-Australia cooperation in agriculture, energy, mining and other fields has made steady progress, and cooperation in tourism, education and other service industries is full of vitality, playing an important role in the stable development of China-Australia relations. I hope that all friends from the business community will give full play to their respective advantages, serve as a bond for friendly cooperation between the two countries, to further consolidate and deepen practical cooperation in the above-mentioned traditional fields, maintain the stability of the supply chains of the two countries, and continue to make the pie of common interests bigger.

Second, to blaze a trail in emerging sectors.

At present, China is accelerating its pace of new quality productive forces. China’s new energy vehicles production and sales account for more than 60% of the world’s total, and its installed PV power generation capacity account for nearly half of the global share. The exports of so-called “new three”, EVs, lithium batteries, and solar panels, exceeded one trillion yuan. We should give full play to the potential of the CHAFTA, expand cooperation in emerging industries such as healthcare, and new energy, to jointly safeguard the global and regional free trade system.

Third, to explore more possibilities in green innovation.

Decarbonization and digitalization are key areas for industrial transformation in China and Australia. They are also important engines that lead global economic and social change and promote high-quality development. China is now stepping up the green transition, and Australia is also striving to becoming a renewable energy superpower. Business communities of the two countries can seek opportunities to cooperate in clean energy, green transport, green manufacturing, digital economy, AI and other possible sectors.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

Currently, the world economy still faces unsteadiness and uncertainties. In this context, China and Australia can work together to carry out mutually beneficial cooperation, achieve common development, and contribute to world stability. Chinese enterprises in Australia are an important force in promoting the continuous development of China-Australia economic and trade cooperation. It is hoped that the CCCA and its members will seize the opportunity and creatively promote China-Australia economic and trade cooperation to achieve new and greater development in accordance with the direction pointed out by the leaders of the two countries.

The Chinese Embassy in Australia and Consulate General in Melbourne will, as always, support CCCA to better play its role as a link between enterprises and the government, to build consensus among members, provide information services, and make greater contributions to the high-quality development of China-Australia economic and trade cooperation.

Let us join hands and work together to inject more positive energy into the steady growth and further enhancement of China-Australia relations on the new journey. Wish the forum a full success.

Thank you!