China keen on bilateral trade agreement

China is willing to complete a free trade agreement with Australia as soon as possible, China’s Ministry of Commerce has said at a ministry press conference this week.

“Both sides have relatively large differences in investment, agriculture and services, but have been trying to find ways to move the negotiations forward” China’s Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang said on Tuesday.

“Since taking office in September this year, members of the Coalition government including Prime Minister Tony Abbott have expressed a positive attitude towards the China-Australia free-trade agreement.

“We’ve also noticed the statements related to this recently by Industry Minister MacFarlane. The Chinese side highly appreciates these positive statements from the Australian government” said Shen.

China is looking forward to Minister Robb’s visit where he will introduce his introduce “new ideas for the negotiation” said Shen.

There have been 19 rounds of talks on the FTA since they were initiated in Sydney in 2005.

Lat week  Kirsty Boazman, Chief Executive Officer of The Australian Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong left that long held position to take up a senior political appointment with the new Australian Government, leading the office of the Australian Federal Minister for Industry as Chief of Staff .

In seeing Kirsty off last Friday night in Hong Kong  it is apparent that Kirsty will continue to hold the Chamber, its members, and the promotion of Australian business in this region close to her heart. She will likely be a leading advocate, in the halls of Parliament House, for the advancement of Australian business across Greater China and, equally, investment flows from this region to Australia. I met Kirsty first in 2011 just after she had assumed this role, joined the Chamber myself not much later  and there is no doubt that the Hong Kong Chamber (Australia’s largest in Asia) has taken a quantum leap during Kirsty’s time as Chief Executive   in terms of cultural shift, processes and management, outreach and engagement, strategic thinking, profile and advocacy and  this culture is shared across and by the board , committee members, managment and staff of the Chamber.

As the Chairman of the Chamber  voiced recently  “she wouldn’t mind me adding that you, the Chamber’s members, should view this Canberra connection as a potential benefit for your own organisations.” In fact Kirsty is a firm supporter of the bilateral trade agreement with China, as she is with respect to a double taxation agreement between Hong Kong and Australia because she believes, as many Australians do in Hong Kong and China , that it will create benefit for all countries.

As

  • an Australian travelling extensively in Hong Kong and China,
  • a corporate member of Austcham in Hong Kong,
  • a reciprocal member of 16 Australian Chambers of Commerce thorughout Asia and
  • a member of the Chamber’s Finance Legal and Taxation Committee

I see Australians every day in every day work and life, in senior business and community positions or in government.Irrespective of any vested interest or otherwise there is an almost universal support base and advocacy for any FTA ( actually a BTA) and DTA bewteen China, Hong Kong and Australia. There is both a recognition of and a regard for security and soverignty ( we dont want prime Australian land for food production excised off and towed to the Pearl River !) ie even those who benfit are still mindful of our national interest.

Today, the Chamber has a membership representative of some 500 companies, presents more than 100 professional development seminars and networking events every year, and maintains a database of more than 5000 members and supporters.

The Australian Chamber seeks to:

CONNECT – Members with potential business partners, clients and supporting parties through matching and introductory services as well as a full schedule of more than 100 professional development, informative and networking events each year at which Members are encouraged to promote their business and interests.

ENGAGE – through a Committee structure, based around sectoral interests, which gives Members increased access to developments and leaders in their professional areas and provide select opportunities for them to meet with key decision makers from Australia, Hong Kong and Macau.

REPRESENT – the views, values and interests of Members to government departments, private think-tanks, and other leading organisations in Hong Kong, Macau and Australia. The Chamber is an active member of the International Business Committee which meets regularly with the Chief Secretary and other senior Hong Kong Government officials.

Vision of Success

The Chamber’s mission is to promote and represent Australian business and values, while enabling members to connect, engage, and grow bilateral relationships.

I am well positioned to  facilitate introductions to the Chamber, advisors, business or government  as required.

Sean Rothsey



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