A global import expo in China later this year will offer unprecedented opportunities for Australian businesses to tap the Chinese market and reap the mutual benefits of maintaining free trade and open economies, participants of a major business forum in Sydney heard on Wednesday.
"Recent years have witnessed twists and turns of globalization, with the multilateral trading system being challenged and protectionism on the rise. Against such a background, China's decision to host the expo is to demonstrate its strong commitment to globalization and free trade, as well as our steadfast determination to further opening-up," Chinese Ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye said at the forum on the China International Import Expo, which is scheduled to be held in Shanghai in November.
"The message we hope to convey is clear, that is China welcomes other countries to board the fast train of China's economy and take a free ride. In the coming five years, China is estimated to import over 8 trillion U.S. dollars of goods and services. The expo will undoubtedly provide a new opportunity for other countries to expand their exports to China."
More than 100 countries and regions are expected to take part in expo, which is set to give them access to business networks boasting 150,000 purchasers and a Chinese consumer goods retail sales market that has consistently risen 3 trillion yuan year-on-year, according to expo organizers.
Australian businesses can look forward to new and further opportunities in goods and services including the food, agriculture, tourism, education, healthcare, medical equipment and emerging technologies sectors. Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Steven Ciobo is also set to lead the Australian delegation to the expo.
Wang Hongbo, economic and commercial counsellor of the economic and commercial section of the Consulate General of China in Sydney, said at least 89 major Australian companies have so far registered to take part in the expo.
Businesses at the expo will also not be competing with Chinese exporters, said Wang. "All the Chinese companies will only be able to register as buyers. The Chinese companies are not going to showcase their industries or their exports at this event," she said.
At the Sydney business forum, which was organized by the China Chamber of Commerce in Australia and the Australia China Business Council, more than 250 leading representatives from the public and private sectors discussed these latest developments of the Shanghai import expo and explored the benefits it presented.
"The forum today provides a great opportunity for Australian business leaders and government to discuss ways for further strengthening economic cooperation and trade between our two countries," said Chen Huaiyu, chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce in Australia.
"In the spirit of shared prosperity, it is incumbent on us to ensure that the true potential of our trade relationship is realized," he said.
"This is an incredibly unique expo ... that a country has organized an expo around imports. We see this as an extremely important opportunity for Australian businesses to sell not just products, but importantly, services into China," David Landers, general manager, global, for the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, told Xinhua.
"We have quite a significant commitment to China. It's our largest market in terms of commitment of resource. For us, we just keep focused on identifying opportunities for Australian business.
"This expo is a very important opportunity to work with exporters in a diversity of areas," said Landers.
"I'm delighted that the Chinese leadership, through this expo, is putting an emphasis on imports because we live in an era where people are asserting, claiming, that exports are good but imports are bad," Dr Craig Emerson, president of the Australian China Business Council, New South Wales branch, told Xinhua.