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Speech by Ambassador Cheng Jingye at the ACBC Canberra Networking Day Reception
2017/06/15

The Hon. ACBC National President John Brumby,

Dear Mr. Fletcher, DFAT First Assistant Secretary,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening everyone!

I am very pleased to welcome friends from the ACBC to the embassy during your Canberra Networking Day. This gathering has become a fine tradition between us. I know you had a full day discussion about the key areas of China-Australia economic and trade cooperation, which I am sure will have a positive impact on future business ties.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, and it is also the 44th anniversary since the founding of the Australia China Business Council. Over the 45 years, the China-Australia's relationship has grown in depth and steadily moved onto a track of mature and sound development. The comprehensive strategic partnership established in 2014 as well as the ChAFTA signed and implemented in 2015 is a full testimony to this. ACBC has not only witnessed this rising trajectory of our relations, but has also made no small contributions to it. In last March, during Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Australia, ACBC and CCPIT successfully hosted the Chinese-Australian Economic and Trade Forum, which became a highlight of the visit. I would like to use this occasion to express my deep appreciation to the indispensable role that ACBC and its member organizations have played over the years in promoting the economic and trade relationship, and the overall relationship between the two countries. My sincere thanks also goes to President Brumby and CEO Sawczak for your leadership in this regard. You can be assured of our continued support in your future work. I'd also like to take this opportunity to applaud the ACBC report that was launched this morning by the Foreign Minister. It was very timely as the Minister stressed. I think it highlighted the importance of our bilateral relations.

I am also happy to see that there are also a number of representatives from Chinese enterprises in Australia at this party who attended the Networking Day as well. This kind of interactions between the Chinese-Australian business communities will be conducive to the bilateral cooperation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As you know, the 'Belt and Road Forum' was held successfully in Beijing a month ago. The presence of some 1500 representatives from over 130 countries and 70 international organizations fully demonstrates the warm response and broad support to the 'Belt and Road' initiative from the international community. The joint Communique of the Forum's Leaders Round-table clearly shows that the vision of 'Belt and Road' is becoming a reality with increasing consensus and participation from various parties. The list of major deliverables of the Forum includes 76 items comprising more than 270 concrete results in 5 key areas, which forebodes well a prospective future of the 'Belt and Road' initiative.

Being a major international public product, the initiative aims to achieve win-win and shared development for all participating countries. Its core idea is extensive consultation, joint efforts and shared benefits. It focuses on promoting connectivity in policy, trade, infrastructure and financing as well as people-to-people exchanges.

China has reached practical cooperative agreements with many countries within the framework of 'Belt and Road' , and we will scale up financial support for the initiative. That includes an additional RMB 100 billion to the Silk Road fund, and encouraging financial institutions to carry out overseas RMB fund business with an estimated amount of about RMB 300 billion . With further progress in building 'Belt and Road' , more countries will certainly be provided with opportunities in trade cooperation and economic growth, and this will have positive and far-reaching effects on regional and global development.

As stressed by Chairman Xi at the Forum, the 'Belt and Road' initiative is rooted in the ancient Silk Road. It focuses on the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa, but is also open to all other countries. All countries can be partners of the initiative.

I have noted that the 'Belt and Road' Forum was extensively covered in the Australia media. And I understand that many in Australia, particularly in connection to state and territory governments, and those in business community have a keen interest in participating in 'Belt and Road' initiative. It's my belief that the initiative has presented an important opportunity to promote economic and trade cooperation between China and Australia. I hope the opportunities will be seized by both countries' business people. Friends from ACBC can play an active role in this regard.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Chinese and Australian economic and trade cooperation has maintained a good momentum in recent years. The volume of trade between the two countries last year reached $155.1 billion AUD, an increase of 3.7% over the previous year. Trade in services reached $13.9 billion AUD, with China continuing to remain Australia's largest trade services export market. Bilateral trade in goods has exhibited a marked expansion this year. According to Chinese Customs, in the first 5 months of this year, trade in goods between China and Australia recorded an increase of 50.7% over the same period of last year, with China's import from Australia increasing 68.9%. Bilateral investment between the two countries has been more vigorous. As of the end of 2016, China has become Australia's seventh largest source of investment and its fifth largest destination for foreign investment.

Looking ahead, the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries promises a broad prospect. China's economy will continue to maintain a high-to-medium rate of growth of about 6.5% and it is currently in a major stage of consumption upgrading. This leads to increasing demand for high quality consumer goods and quality services from countries like Australia. Meanwhile Australia is maintaining its economic growth and infrastructure investment is increasing, which will generate new opportunities for Chinese businesses. Investments from Australia to China is only made up 4.0% of Australia's total stock of outbound investment, and investments from China amounts to only 2.7% of the total stock of foreign investment absorbed by Australia. There is enormous potential for investment cooperation between the two countries. China will further open up its agriculture, mining and service sectors, where Australia has a competitive edge. While welcoming more Australian investment, China will continue to support its companies to invest here and we hope that Australia will continue to provide an enabling environment for investment cooperation.

During Premier's Li visit to Australia, both parties signed the Declaration of Intent regarding Review of Elements of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, agreeing to carry out an early review of the investment and services trade provisions in the Agreement. It will lay the ground for broadening and upgrading of our FTA in due time. From a long term view, this will no doubt contribute to releasing the full dividends of the Free Trade Agreement and advancing China and Australia toward the era of ChAFTA-driven prosperity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The relationship between China and Australia is not a simple one of buying or selling, but a partnership of multiple dimensions. Historical experience tells us that mutually beneficial cooperation and mutual trust are of equal importance to the flourishing of our partnership. A constant expansion of practical cooperation will help promote trust between both parties, while the steady strengthening of mutual trust will also be beneficial in furthering our economic and trade ties. China and Australia relationship has already come a long way. It has gone from the establishment of diplomatic relations to the comprehensive cooperative partnership, then to the strategic partnership, and now the comprehensive strategic partnership. But we should not become complacent. Much remains to be done to build on the comprehensive strategic partnership. For this, the two countries need more dialogue, understanding and learning from each other, with less and less prejudice and arrogance. We need to view each other's development path and policy intentions more objectively and rationally, with less and less Cold War mentality. We need to build more trust, with less lecturing. And we need to respect each other's core interests and major concerns, while handle our differences in a proper way. The deeper our understanding toward each other and the greater our mutual trust, then the broader the prospect for our practical cooperation in all areas. Business communities are the primary forces in advancing trade and economic cooperation between the two countries, and it's my sincere hope that you will be more proactive in enhancing the political trust between our two countries.

Thank you for your attention.

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