Address to The China-Australia Chamber of Commerce, Beijing

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Address to The China-Australia Chamber of Commerce, Beijing






I am delighted to be back in Beijing speaking to the

Australian Chamber of Commerce again. I first had the opportunity to address

you a little over eight years ago. Much has changed.

Back then, in 1997, Asia was facing a period of economic turmoil. Many of the

countries of the region experienced severe economic shock through exchange rate

collapse, stock market plunges, deep recession and, in some cases, the loss

of foreign reserves.

The collapse of some countries spread to others as “financial contagion”

swept much of the region. Fortunately, it did not take hold in China. It did

not take hold in our country. At the two ends of East Asia, North and South,

our countries proved stable. We were able to cooperate with the region and with

International Financial Institutions to assist some of the crisis-affected economies.

Since 1997, China’s economy has nearly doubled. It has continued to liberalise

its economy, allowing more foreign investment and more open price competition.

China has joined the WorldTradeOrganisation. And the emergence of China is

now the chief source of global growth. This has been good for other countries

that have obtained new markets in China. And as Chinese standards of living

grow, these will become more significant.

In some ways, the growth of China has contributed to the creation of global

imbalances. Forexample, the growth in demand for oil has moved demand faster

than supply and increased global oil prices – a substantial shift that

is now affecting consumers and businesses throughout the world.

Australia-China relations

  • The most striking feature of our two economies is our natural complementarity

    in trade. China is Australia’s second largest source of imports, largely

    of manufactured goods. And those manufactured goods draw heavily on imports

    of natural resources and energy, of which Australia is a major supplier.

  • China’s rapid growth over the past decade has boosted its energy

    and resource needs. China is the largest consumer of coal in the world, for

    example, and accounts for 70 per cent of the increase in world consumption

    of coal over the past five years. The Chinese Government projects that China’s

    energy demand will double from 2000 to 2020 but, with China’s aim to

    quadruple GDP over this period, such a projection seems conservative. A concern

    for China is how it can secure stable energy supply over time.

  • China will be able to secure long-term energy supplies from stable, reliable

    energy producers. Australia is well placed to meet the energy and commodity

    demands of China, and support China’s ongoing industrialisation and


  • We have the opportunity to build an energy freeway from Australia to China,

    from South to North, in the East Asia region.

  • Australia exported almost 6million tonnes of coal to China in 2004. We

    have reserves of recoverable black and brown coal of 40.4billion and 37.5billion

    tonnes, and could export as much as 56million tonnes a year by 2010 if China’s

    markets were fully open to foreign suppliers.

  • We will become the first country to supply LNG to China from April 2006,

    with a 25-year contract for 180 billion cubic feet (3.7million tonnes) of

    LNG per year to Guangdong province. Australia’s demonstrated reserves

    of sales gas are estimated at 87trillion cubic feet.

  • Australian uranium exports are currently not permitted to China because

    of the absence of a bilateral nuclear safeguards agreement with China. Negotiations

    are underway and if such an agreement can be reached, Australia could export

    up to 10,000tonnes of uranium a year. Demonstrated uranium reserves in Australia

    are estimated at 701,000 tonnes.

  • Australia has the resources. Australia is a particularly stable country

    with a proven track record of secure, reliable supply.

  • In a private sector, market-based system, resources are not designated

    by the State to particular consumers or indeed particular countries. Resources

    are traded by partners under contract and most beneficially traded under long-term

    contract, enforceable and reliable, with a clear legal title and certainty.

    Ultimately, the best way to achieve energy and resource security is to trade

    these commodities with reliable countries in a legal framework enforced by

    strong, independent legal institutions.

  • Access to resources, of course, is not just an issue for China. It is a

    global issue. It is an issue for Australia, which is a net importer of oil.

    It is timely that the G-20, with its mix of key suppliers and demanders of

    energy and resources, has now put the issue of energy and commodity resources

    on its agenda for 2006.

  • While energy and resources are currently the most striking aspect, they

    are not the sum total of our economic relationship. The complementarities

    between our two economies extend beyond energy and resources to agriculture,

    tourism and education, business and financial services. One of the reasons

    that Australia has been able to sustain a long expansion of more than a decade

    in the face of substantial negative shocks from overseas is because our financial

    services and business sectors are strong. Australian business has a lot to

    offer China in skills and expertise.

  • Australia and China are now negotiating a free trade agreement. We should

    make it as ambitious and extensive as we can. This is not easy and it requires

    high-level political commitment. It is as much a challenge for Australia as

    it is for China. But a substantial agreement provides an opportunity to continue

    to reform our economies and to deepen the economic, social and people-to-people

    connections between our two countries. China is now Australia’s second

    largest merchandise trading partner, accounting for A$32.8billion of two-way

    trade in the year to June, and we can grow this further.

  • My final observation on the bilateral relationship is that Australia and

    China work well together in international forums. This has been especially

    evident this year in the G-20, with Australia, as next year’s chair,

    entering the G-20 management troika with China and Germany (last year’s

    chair). Under China’s stewardship, we have been able to put substantial

    momentum behind the process for reform of the IMF and World Bank.

Global economic architecture

As you know, a meeting of the world’s Finance Ministers and Central Bankers

– known as the Group of 20 (G-20) – has taken place here over the


  • The Group brings together the G-7 – with the important emerging economies

    such as China, India, Russia – and other countries that are systemically important

    to the global financial system.

  • The G-20 was formed in the aftermath of the 1997 Asian financial crisis,

    partly because the existing International Financial Institutions (IFIs) –

    the International Monetary Fund and the WorldBank – had not focussed

    well on the nature of the vulnerability in East Asia, were not fast enough

    to respond to the crisis and don’t give a strong enough voice to this

    part of the world.

  • It is not the object of the G-20 to replicate the work of the InternationalFinancial

    Institutions. It is a forum that brings together the major players in the

    world economy – developed and developing countries. One of the things

    the G-20 can do is provide a forum – open and honest – to discuss

    reform of the IFIs and provide momentum to push it along.

  • One of the things that I raised and put on the agenda for the G-20 is the

    impact that demographic changes will have on different regions of the world

    and the global economy. There is going to be a major demographic shift with

    the Western world losing population while Africa grows rapidly. There is going

    to be a major economic re-alignment of the global economy to East and SouthAsia

    – China and India.

  • Many people will be surprised to know that China’s population is

    going to rapidly age towards the middle of this century. Eventually this will

    slow an economy but that is not going to occur for several decades. And in

    the decades to come, China is going to become a powerhouse of the world economy.

  • What will drive China’s future economic growth is what has driven

    it in the recent past – economic liberalisation, developing the institutional

    framework for trade and business, entry into the world trading system. China

    is lifting millions out of poverty through economic growth.

  • Africa, with its still rapidly growing population, needs to accomplish

    this kind of economic reform and economic growth if we are to tackle the poverty

    gripping large areas of that great continent.

  • There are critics of “globalisation” who argue that cross-border

    investment and open international trade, cause poverty. On the contrary: investment

    and trade are necessary tools for economic growth. And economic growth is

    a poverty buster. Economic growth is the best way to increase living standards.

    It is those countries that cut off, or are locked out of, trade and investment

    that suffer the most.

  • This is the importance of getting a successful outcome in the DohaRound

    of the WTO. This will benefit developed and developing countries – but

    especially developing countries.


  • Whilst we are currently focusing on breakthroughs in the global trading

    system, let us not overlook the importance of the BogorDeclaration, made

    by the APEC economies – free trade by 2010 for developed economies and

    free trade by 2020 for the region. Australia stands ready to deliver on these

    commitments. We call on the other APEC economies to continue progress towards

    this goal and on this timetable.

  • The region as a whole generates massive savings. A large part of those

    savings finds its way to the developed world. This is an anomaly. The region

    as a whole has a huge investment task but invests outside of the region much

    of its savings which could fund investment in the region.

  • This indicates the under-development of financial markets in the region.

    There is now a recognition that greater cooperation to development financial

    instruments could mediate East Asian savings into East Asian investment.

  • We support the region’s proposed mechanism for dealing with financial

    crises, the Chiang Mai Initiative of bilateral foreign exchange swaps, and

    we would be happy to make a practical and financial contribution to its further

    development. Australia has a long history of financial cooperation with Asia.

    We were a founding member of the Asian Development Bank. Along with Japan,

    we were the only country in the region to commit additional funds to support

    all three IMF crisis programmes in Asia in 1997.

  • Australia supports the evolving architecture of cooperation in Asia. The

    Australian Government has long stated our support for the ASEAN+3 groups.

    And we warmly welcome the creation of the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the invitation

    to Australia to be an inaugural member.

  • The EAS is a natural expansion of the ASEAN+3 grouping to include countries

    that are geographically proximate to its members and deeply engaged with them

    economically and socially. This is an important development for the region

    as a whole. It is a pragmatic recognition of the complexity of interests in

    the region – East Asia’s economic, social and strategic ties in

    the broader Asian region are extensive and expanding. And it embodies a shared

    commitment in the region to openness and inclusiveness, which is a sound basis

    for building up a deeper community of nations in Asia. We see the EAS as enhancing

    Asia’s engagement with the rest of the world, not detracting from it.

  • Australia is a major contributor to the Asian Development Bank, which is

    a significant instrument for regional assistance and financial cooperation.

    We have recently announced our largest ever single aid commitment –

    the Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Reconstruction and Development. Australia

    can play an even more important role in opening its quality educational system

    to students in the region and assisting with scholarships to facilitate access

    for post-graduate scholars.

  • The improvements in travel and communication are driving improved cooperation,

    trade and investment. They are deepening a sense of regionalism. But our proximity

    and closeness gives rise to some new threats.

  • Just as investment and trade crosses borders and frontiers, so too can

    disease and epidemics. Our minds are concentrated at present on the threat

    of Avian bird flu. Our region must cooperate if we are to jointly and separately

    protect our citizens from the scourge of disease and to protect them against

    the threat of terrorism.

Taking things forward

So where do we go from here? The global priorities for the rest of the decade

are clear.

It is vital to our collective economic wellbeing that we achieve a substantive

outcome in the Doha Development Round of the WTO, to increase trade and investment,

and provide real development opportunities for the world’s poor.

We need to ensure that our development institutions are genuinely effective

tools to reduce poverty, combat disease, and support economic and social development.

Poverty does not cause terrorism. But progress in these areas will make it harder

for the propagators of hate and destruction to appeal to those who do not share

in the benefits of development.

We need to work together to reduce the risk of terrorism, epidemics and other

critical extreme events.

We need to reform our international economic institutions and forums to ensure

that countries are fairly represented – in line with their economic weight

– and that the policies of our global institutions are relevant and effective.

We need to build on the progress made in regional integration in Asia, building

robust interactions between all the countries in the region to improve prospects

for stable and sustainable economic growth and development.

And we need also to ensure that our domestic economic policies actually support

growth and stability, that they take account of the various demographic challenges

countries face, and that they do not give rise to unsustainable imbalances between


Final comment

I have outlined, today, an ambitious agenda for improving global and regional

economic cooperation. It will involve reform to strengthen global economic institutions,

especially by ensuring that they reflect countries’ current economic weight.

And it requires deepening and advancing the economic integration underway in

Asia. Australia and China are partners in this exercise of renewal and reform,

and I look forward to further cooperation between our two countries.