Australia-China relations: business organisations meet to help write the new rules of engagement
Earlier this week, the boards of the Australia China Business Council (ACBC), the China-Australia Chamber of Commerce Chapters in Beijing, West China and South China (AustCham China); the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai (AustCham Shanghai) and the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong (AustCham Hong Kong) met to reaffirm their commitment to supporting their members’ successful business engagement in and with Mainland China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
The boards shared information about their respective operations and ambitions and explored practical ways in which they can support bilateral business engagement, particularly in light of renewed intent from both the Australian and Chinese governments to stabilise the bilateral relationship.
Despite the challenges posed by restrictions on travel to China, meeting participants felt it was important for Australian businesses and institutions to be aware of developments in the China market and to stay engaged with their counterparts and stakeholders across key sectors and emerging areas of opportunity.
The AustCham teams and member companies located in key centers in Mainland China and Hong Kong are an important resource which can be tapped, working with ACBC in Australia.
Similarly recognizing that the settings for foreign investment in Australia are undergoing important changes in terms of the sectors where foreign investment is being sought, as well the laws relating to foreign investment, meeting participants felt now was the time to explore potential ways to collaborate on incubating Chinese investment into Australia in key areas of common interest such as climate change.
The meeting agreed to establish a working group to develop practical proposals including:
- developing a program of high level and industry focused delegations from each country to the other as soon as travel can safely resume; and
- exploring ways in which programs of activity and initiatives can be developed for key sectors of opportunity for Australian business that (a) build the awareness and reputation of Australian companies and develop relationships with key companies and stakeholders in China; (b) deliver policy insights and understanding about emerging opportunities and changing risks; and (c) generate business opportunities for member companies.
Other priorities include:
- engagement with government and agencies in both countries to understand better the scope of opportunities that now exist in each country, and in the future, for cross-border trade and investment, especially for the services sector, and in the green economy;
- working together to re-establish a High-Level Trade and Economic Forum, to be held, tentatively, in Australia in Q3 2023.
In framing these priorities directors reiterated the critical role that business councils and chambers of commerce play in supporting the fabric of Australia’s relationship with China.
ACBC National President and Chair, David Olsson, commented that meeting was “a welcome reminder of the long-term importance of Australia’s economic and business relationship with China and the role that ACBC and the AustChams can play in shaping Australia’s future relationship with China”
Vaughn Barber, Chair of the China-Australia Chamber of Commerce in Beijing says: “Even if companies are not planning to increase investment in their China business now, developments in China have global relevance for most sectors. Closer collaboration between ACBC and the AustCham business organisations across China will provide Australian companies and institutions with connectivity to stakeholders, potential business partners and on-the-ground perspectives to support decision-making about emerging opportunities in this important market.”
AustCham Hong Kong Chair, Robert Quinlivan says “we serve as the voice for business. The organisation that business leaders rely on for information and guidance, in creating business-to-business connections and in fostering partnerships for growth in new and emerging areas.”
AustCham Shanghai Chair Heidi Dugan says “our role is changing. Increasingly, we are stepping forward in challenging times to offer fresh and compelling ideas, working across borders to expand the economy for all.
Australia China Business Council
The ACBC is Australia’s leading non-government, member-based business organisation focused on the promotion of productive trade and investment with China, for mutual advantage.
ACBC was founded in 1973 shortly after the establishment of diplomatic relations nearly five decades ago and has branches in every state and territory of Australia, representing around 700 member companies. Members range from small and medium size enterprises to the largest corporations and institutions in Australia, across all industries and sectors.
ACBC exists to support and bring together individuals and companies to strengthen and build new relationships, share best practice, foster new opportunities, and provide practical support to help members trade, invest and engage productively in and with China.
China-Australia Chamber of Commerce
The China-Australia Chamber of Commerce (AustCham China) is registered with the Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People’s Republic of China. AustCham China is the peak industry body in China representing Australian companies and has as its goal the advancement of the broader Australia-China business relationship through the effective representation of its members.
We achieve this through building connections between our members and broader stakeholders in Australia and China, delivery of effective advocacy programs and provision of information and insights through our business events and online platforms.
AustCham China maintains offices and personnel in Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu covering the North, South, and West China regions. With this network, AustCham China operates the largest non-government organisation advancing the Australian commercial relationships with China. AustCham China also works closely with AustCham Shanghai and AustCham Hong Kong.
For more information visit www.austcham.org
Founded in 1994, the Australian Chamber of Commerce Shanghai (AustCham Shanghai) is the peak body for Australian business in East China. As a membership-based organisation, AustCham Shanghai represents businesses and individuals involved in trade and investment between Australia and China and provides support, education, advocacy, and business services.
As the trading relationship has evolved beyond energy and resources to encapsulate a wide variety of sectors, AustCham Shanghai has grown to represent businesses in every sector, from manufacturing, health, and aged care, to education and financial services.
The Chamber is based at Australia House by AustCham Shanghai, a stand-alone 5,300sqm seven-storey building in downtown Shanghai that provides physical offices, coworking spaces, food & beverage outlets, event spaces and showcase opportunities for the Australia-China business community.
Today, our Chamber brings the business community together through membership services, events, delegations, project management, representation, and advocacy.
AustCham Hong Kong
AustCham Hong Kong was established in 1987 and is one of the largest Australian business chambers globally.
The Chamber’s mission is to promote and represent Australian business and values, while enabling members to connect, engage, and grow bilateral relationships.
Australia and Hong Kong have had a longstanding and unique trade and investment relationship. Reflecting this and Hong Kong’s role as an International Financial Center, our membership includes Australian companies, Hong Kong companies with investment in Australia, SMEs and Individuals.