The Abacus

Canberra Networking Day Summary

By: ACBC National

Last Wednesday June 26th, ACBC hosted its annual signature event, Canberra Networking Day. The event was held in Australia's Parliament House and featured an eclectic mix of individuals from both the business and political spheres to discuss Australis's most valuable and vital bilateral relationship.

ACBC National President the Hon John Brumby AO opened the day’s proceedings by emphasising the importance of the Australia-China relationship to the national economy and how it will shape Australia's economic prospects and quality of life for generations to come. To meet the opportunities economic engagement with China offers, Mr Brumby urged Australians to acknowledge 'the China of today’, where its middle-class accounts for 550 million people and China is now an economic powerhouse through significant strides in technology and innovation. Mr Brumby also remarked that Australia needs to engage with the China International Import Expo (CIIE), the Belt & Road Initiative and better understand the opportunities afforded through China's digital economy and R&D and be open to Chinese investment.

Chinese Ambassador to Australia HE Cheng Jingye illustrated China's development over the 70 years since the establishment of the People's Republic of China in areas such as poverty reduction, social welfare, international affairs and reform & opening up. He commented that there is no winner in the US-China Trade War and that China is committed to seeking its resolution. The Ambassador claimed the Australia-China relationship was based on the two wheels of mutual trust and mutual benefit that, when spinning at the same speed in the same direction, keep the relationship strong.

Australia's Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, the Hon Simon Birmingham, spoke of Australia's commercial future lying in greater access to Asia and the Indo Pacific. He also touted the significant gains in trade since ChAFTA (the China Australia Free Trade Agreement) came into effect and commented upon existing opportunities in education, tourism and investment. Later, Shadow Trade Minister the Hon Madeleine King outlined the Opposition's trade agenda and China's continued importance.

Andrew Culley (Deloitte Private) launched the report The Impact of the Significant Investor Visa Program – A long-term proposition for Australia, which led to a series of thought-provoking panel sessions that gave insight into prominent business trends between Australia and China. Firstly, David Speers moderated a robust discussion with Kathryn Matthew (Deloitte Access Economics), Andrew Martin (Moelis Australia), Grace Bacon (ANZ) and Chris Carr (MinterEllison Shanghai) on foreign investment in Australia and China, and the utility of Australia’s Significant Investment VISA (SIV) program.

The second panel looked into Chinese consumer habits, patterns and trends with Andrew Kuiler (The Silk Initiative), Maggie Zhou (Alibaba) and Ophenia Liang (Digital Crew) outlining the evolving markets and platforms utilised to tap into China‘s evolving middle class. Minister Birmingham and Ms Liang also launched the Digital Crew and Monash University report Australian Brands in China.

Austrade’s Tim Beresford spoke of the importance of people-people networks across the relationship and announced the forthcoming ACBC-Austrade C Suite Tour of China in 2020. The third and final panel session of the day saw ACBC CEO Helen Sawczak moderate a lively discussion between Sophie Galaise (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra), Ben Slack (Tennis Australia) and Kevin Magee (DFAT) on how Australian firms can utilise relationships and networks for commercial gain in China.

As per Canberra Networking Day tradition, at the conclusion of the day’s proceedings, participants made their way to the Chinese Embassy, where Ambassador Cheng hosted a warm cocktail reception, where Australia’s Ambassador Designate to China, Graham Fletcher, expressed his honour and excitement for his forthcoming post in Beijing later this year.

A full report of the speeches, discussions and panels from this year’s Canberra Networking Day will be available on the ACBC in the coming weeks.

For images from the day, please visit


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Andres OlascoagaJul 16 7:07:am

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