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Australian service exports to China have been increasing for over ten years. Performance is strongest in areas where Australia has internationally recognised expertise or can bring its own unique comparative advantages to bear, for example in in-bound education and tourism.
In cross-border and in-country provision of services in China, Australian providers are subject to political and regulatory constraints and face the same hurdles as providers from other countries. When, in November 2013, China’s new leadership released their 60 point Decisions as the economic blue-print for the period until 2020, they included three commitments to opening up services to international competition. The first was to treat domestic and foreign service providers on the same basis; the second to establish the China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone and the third, and most detailed, was a list of service sectors to be opened.
To date, the opening up of the Chinese service sector has been gradual, with reform being rolled out cautiously via pilot projects and coordination with stakeholders. This makes the progress and sequencing of these reforms difficult to predict, but at the same time creates incentives for Australian business to be involved at an early stage such as the big Australian banks or AMP have done. Australian companies have achieved partial breakthroughs in insurance, banking and currency trading. At the same time, Australian financial and professional services providers are opening up two-way business opportunities for their Australian and Chinese clients. Australian companies operating in a market environment are doing well in other service sectors such as architecture and design.
Snowden Mining is an Australian company utilising its standing in the mining sector to partner with an influential Chinese state-owned company, the Design Institute. Snowden Mining spent years in building a relationship and trust with their Chinese counterpart that eventually led to global expansion of their joint service.
Snowden Group achieved a breakthrough for the Australian service sector by cooperating with one of China’s central technical design institutes for the mining sector. They jointly support Chinese global mining investments through their special expertise in international mining codes and their application. Codes such as the Australian Joint Ore Reserves Committee Code (JORC Code), the Canadian National Instrument NI 43-101 and the South African Code for the Reporting of Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves (SAMREC) regulate the publication of mineral exploration reports for investors. These reports protect investors from misleading information and are done against the respective codes by accredited competent persons.
Snowden Group discovered a market opportunity when Chinese mining companies started outbound investment and discovered that while possessing rich technical and industry know-how, they lacked crucial regulatory expertise in working with international mining codes which impacted on their ability to source external funding for their projects. Snowden identified a key Design Institute in Beijing as the best partner to offer consulting services in international mining codes to Chinese mining companies.
Snowden initially worked with Chinese geologists, mining engineers and other experts to translate the codes into Chinese and interpret them from a Chinese perspective. Over time this lead to closer cooperation with Snowden giving presentations in Beijing and training Chinese mining engineers and geologist in Perth. Relationship building took the better part of three years. Once confidence was established, the negotiation of a cooperation agreement was completed within months. The cooperation agreement established a joint platform for the Design Institute and Snowden Group to offer their services to Chinese State-owned mining companies intending to invest overseas.