Insights | AustCham China Chair: Australia-China cooperation facilitates sustainable development

2024-06-18 Editor : Chen Tianhao ECNS App Download

By Chen Tianhao

Chinese Premier Li Qiang will pay official visits to New Zealand, Australia and Malaysia from June 13 to 20, and during his visit to Australia, Premier Li will co-chair the ninth China-Australia Annual Leaders' Meeting with Prime Minister Albanese.

In an interview with China News Network, Vaughn Barber, AustCham China Chair, said "It is not controversial to suggest that having a healthy relationship with China as its largest trading partner, is in Australia's national interest." He added that the Australia-China relationship is important for Australia. The Albanese Government has been clear that Australia "will cooperate where we can disagree where we must and engage in the national interest".

Vaughn Barber, AustCham China Chair.

According to the business sentiment survey conducted by AustCham China, 90% of companies engaged in business between China and Australia are planning to maintain or increase investment in their China business, and 70% are highly optimistic or cautiously optimistic about the long-term outlook for their China businesses. "In addition, over 70% of respondents are satisfied or very satisfied with the Australian government's management of the bilateral relationship with China," according to Barber.

In terms of future bilateral cooperation, Barber noted that "China provides significant business opportunities and growth potential for Australian companies in areas including resources and energy, agriculture and food production, healthcare and eldercare, and education". Going forward, a key theme of the business between Australian and Chinese companies will be complementing existing areas of strength in goods export with emerging opportunities in services and investment.

Barber further took the example of cooperation in cooperation in areas relating to decarbonizing the economy that can further strengthen bilateral ties. “This is because of the high degree of complementarity between our two countries. While Australia offers abundant resources that are needed for renewable technologies and pioneering research in sustainable practices, China brings manufacturing scale, technological expertise, and a vast market. Collaboration between Australia and China in areas related to decarbonization of the economy can bring benefits to both countries and accelerate the global transition to a net-zero future.”

"With the political relationship between our two nations stabilizing and improving, now is a good time for Chinese and Australian companies to explore new opportunities for collaboration and investment in Australia," Barber said, highlighting three sectors: renewable energy, clean transport, and advanced manufacturing.

He further elaborated: first, Australia's abundant renewable resources, especially in solar and wind energy, present vast opportunities. Joint ventures in these sectors can accelerate the development of a sustainable power grid, benefiting both nations economically and environmentally.

Secondly, the shift towards electric vehicles (EVs) and sustainable transportation infrastructure in Australia offers a significant area for Chinese involvement. With China's advantages in EV technology and battery production, there is immense potential to transform Australia's transport sector.

A ZEEKR EV is on the conveyor in a smart factory in Ningbo, China's Jiangsu Province. (Photo: China News Service/Wang Gang)

And there are also significant opportunities to invest in advanced manufacturing in Australia, leveraging the country's skilled workforce, innovative ecosystem, and natural resource endowments. Some key areas are the production and scaling of renewable hydrogen; critical minerals processing; and battery production and recycling. Quality Chinese companies are already operating in or actively looking at projects in each of these areas.

"Partnering with Chinese companies in these sectors, including in research and development areas like new battery chemistries and recycling technologies, is a smart move for Australia," Barber concluded, "It provides access to leading, cost-effective technologies, and helps Australia move up the value chain."


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