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Speech by Consul-General Dong Zhihua at the China Business Forum
2019/05/15

Hon Paul Papalia CSC, MLA, Minister for Tourism, Racing and Gaming, Small Business, Defence Issues, Citizenship and Multicultural Interests

Hon Peter Tinley AM, MLA, Minister for Asian Engagement,

Madam Rebecca Brown, Director General of the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation,

Dr Richard Walley OAM,

Professor Gordon Flake, CEO of Perth USAsia Centre

Mr.David Eaton, CEO of the Small Business Development Corporation

Distinguished guests, Ladies & Gentlemen,

Good afternoon!

It's a great pleasure for me to attend China Business Forum. On behalf of the Chinese Consulate General in Perth, I'd like to thank Perth USAsia Centre, Small Business Development Corporation and Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation for your efforts in organizing this event. I also want to take this opportunity to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to all friends in WA for your long term support and contribution to the promotion of friendly and cooperative relations between China and WA.

Western Australia played a leading role in Australia-China relations and bilateral cooperation. For many years, China has been the largest trading partner, export market and source of imports of Western Australia. The fiscal year of 2018 witnessed bilateral commodity trade reaching 65.8 billion Australian dollars, an increase of 9.3 percent over the previous year, accounting for nearly half of Western Australia's total exports. We are very happy to see that the exchanges and cooperation between the two sides in the fields of agriculture, education and tourism are also gaining momentum.

Coming to the China opportunity for Western Australia, the overarching background that I must bring into context is the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) that you might all have heard about.

In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping raised the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt in Khazakstan and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in Indonesia respectively. The essence of this initiative is connectivity. President Xi proposed to enhance connectivity and practical cooperation in five areas, namely policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people-to-people exchanges.

During the past 6 years, a general connectivity framework consisting of six corridors, six connectivity routes and multiple countries and ports has been put in place. The value of trade between China and other B&R countries surpassed US$6 trillion, created 240 thousand jobs locally and paid more than $2 billion in tax and fees to host countries. A large number of cooperation projects have been launched, which helped improve people's lives in countries involved and created more opportunities for common prosperity.

By the end of March this year, the Chinese government had signed 173 cooperation agreements with 127 countries and 29 international organizations, enhancing complementarity between the BRI and the development strategies of the participating countries. It is worth mentioning here that the Victoria State Government also signed the MOU under BRI framework with China's NDRC in October 2018. After 6 years of joint efforts between China and partner countries, BRI has moved forward from general blueprint to a new stage of result-oriented implementation.

The second Belt and Road Forum (BRF) for international cooperation was successfully held in Beijing last month, heads of state from 38 countries participated the round-table summit, and more than 150 countries with a total of 6000 people attended the Forum. The forum issued 283 deliverables, including bilateral and multilateral documents between governments, multilateral cooperation mechanisms, investment projects, financing projects, and projects by local authorities and enterprises. Over 100 multilateral and bilateral cooperation documents were signed covering transportation, taxation, trade, auditing, science and technology, culture, etc. The BRF also build new platforms for the matchup of local governments and the industrial and commercial communities to broaden cooperation opportunities. The CEO conference held during the Forum facilitated the signing of cooperation agreements worth over 64 billion USD, proving the massive business opportunities presented by the BRI.

President Xi formally called upon countries to promote a global partnership of connectivity and set the goal of high-quality cooperation based on the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, pursuing open, green and clean cooperation, and sticking to high-standard, people-centred and sustainable development. He also announced that China will carry out a series of major reform and opening up initiatives, including expanding foreign market access in a broader area, increasing goods and services on an even larger scale.

President Xi specifically mentioned that China will work for the all-round opening-up of modern services, manufacturing and agriculture, and will allow the operation of foreign-controlled or wholly foreign-owned businesses in more sectors. China will plan new pilot free trade zones and explore at a faster pace the opening of a free trade port. We will accelerate the adoption of supporting regulations to ensure full implementation of the Foreign Investment Law.

In general, the BRI presents a great opportunity to the world. It will facilitate the rapid circulation of economic essential factors such as commodities, capital, technology and personnel, provide more jobs and strong momentum for the economic growth. According to a World Bank study, the transportation network proposed by the BRI can lead to a 4.36-percent increase in FDI flows within B&R countries, and increases trade flows among participating countries by up to 4.1 percent. The cooperation along the Belt and Road will reduce the global trade cost by 1.1-2.2%, and promote the global economic growth in 2019 by at least 0.1%. The BRI will also boost People-to-people ties among participating countries. For example, China has held joint year of tourism with many other B&R countries, initiating cooperation mechanisms such as the Silk Road Tourism Promotion Union, Maritime Silk Road Tourism Promotion Alliance, and Tea Road International Tourism Alliance.

Dear friends,

An ancient Chinese philosopher observed that "plants with strong roots grow well, and efforts with the right focus will ensure success". West Australia and China are natural partners for we are in the same time zone and enjoy geographic proximity. We have a solid foundation and great prospects for future cooperation. We should fully explore the huge opportunities brought by the BRI. I would like to suggest that we take actions in the following areas,

Firstly, enhance strategic coordination at the government level and match the development plans between China and WA. We can jointly design a long-term comprehensive framework for cooperation between China and Western Australia, incorporating more areas in addition to energy and resources.

Secondly, consolidate cooperation in the mining and energy sectors and increase investment in building and elevating the connectivity of infrastructure. We can jointly build flagship projects featuring green energy such as LNG, lithium and hydrogen, which will contribute to energy security and sustainable development, create jobs and improve the livelihood of the local people.

Thirdly, identify new growth points for cooperation. For several consecutive years, the total of Chinese tourism spending in Western Australia ranks first. The potential in the tourism and education sectors is vast. Western Australia has the advantage in areas such as AI robots, smart cities, automated transportation, materials engineering, clean energy, bio-pharmaceuticals, which are in line with China's current needs for environmental improvement, urban construction, and health care, the prospects for cooperation are very bright.

Fourthly, promote connectivity through land, sea and air routes, oil and gas pipelines and information highways, which will better serve existing projects, facilitate the transportation of goods, and open the window for new areas of cooperation. For example, more direct flights between China and WA will bring along more trade and investment opportunities, boost the tourism industry, and promote people to people exchanges.

Fifthly, promote the growth of trade in goods and services. In the next 15 years, China's imports of goods and services are expected to exceed $30 trillion and $10 trillion respectively. China's middle-income population is more than 400 million and the number is still growing. Chinese consumers' appetite for high-quality goods keeps rising and they care more about safety, health and quality. Western Australia has unique advantages in agriculture and farming products. There is great potential to enter the Chinese market.

Sixthly, jointly develop third-country market. In 2017, China and Australia signed the "Memorandum of Understanding regarding the development of third-party market cooperation". Chinese and Western Australian companies complement each other, they have broad prospects for cooperation in areas such as infrastructure, energy, environmental protection etc, both should encourage and support enterprises to develop third-country market cooperation in areas of common interest.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Opportunities are before us and the potential is great. What we need most now is trust, vision and action. I hope that the WA state government and business community will seize the historical opportunity presented by the Belt and Road Initiative and again take the lead in deepening cooperation with China that benefits our people.

The Chinese Consulate General in Perth would like to serve as a bridge helping the WA government to establish contacts with the relevant Chinese government agencies, provide platforms for enterprises from both sides to identify cooperation opportunities. We are ready to work together with all our friends in WA to put forward our practical cooperation to a new height.

Thank you!

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