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Event Recap: Report Launch - Regional Australia's Engagement with China in the Asian Century

24 November 2016

The ways in which regional Australia engages with China was the focus of our partnership event with RMIT University held on 24 November.

Mr Charlie Huang, Senior Lecturer at RMIT University discussed findings of the report – one of the first studies on regional Australia’s engagement with China - and the challenges involved in this investigation. 

The report was formulated in two stages, the first being a series of surveys of Regional Development Australia (RDA) Committees and the next, a series of case studies.

The study sought to identify the ways in which Australian regional, local governments engage with China and to explore the consequent impact on regional Australia. It also aimed to uncover the strategies adopted and challenges confronted in this engagement process. Finally, the research indicated successful strategies used by SMEs.

The RDA Committee survey findings showed that key areas of engagement with China in regional Australia are Agriculture, Tourism, Education and Training. Given these areas of opportunity, combined with perceptions of the current state of China engagement in the regions, there is significant room for improvement for businesses in regional Australia.

The key challenges for regional businesses identified by the report include lack of financial resources, language barriers, cultural barriers and little interest in China in the regions. However, the report also identified strategies to pursue deeper engagement which include:

  • Attracting more Chinese FDI to develop an investment prospectus and offer more investment opportunities
  • Promote exports to and tourism from China
  • Improve business to business engagement by developing platforms for regional SMEs to connect with their Chinese counterparts
  • Capability development through enhancing understanding of the Chinese market and consumers, as well as developing China engagement strategies

Charlie moved on to discuss the second, case study stage of the report, covering a number regions in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia. Key lessons to take from these case studies included:

  • Scaling up is important in China engagement
  • Engaging down and deepening the connection between government and business (It can be more effective for local governments to seek engagement with lower layers of Chinese government as they have a closer connection with businesses)
  • Developing international engagement capability for local government and businesses
  • Developing China engagement programs and activities based on local context and capabilities 

Charlie left attendees with several recommendations for regional businesses stemming from the case studies in the report:

  • Understand the Chinese market and develop export capability
  • Develop a marketing strategy and review it every year
  • Carefully select distributors and strategically deal with channel conflicts
  • Packaging and response to counterfeiting in the Chinese market
  • Innovation to create a unique tourism experience/marketing
  • Leverage your brand name to further grow your business

Charlie’s presentation concluded with the opportunity for Q&A, followed by networking opportunities.

ACBC Victoria kindly thank RMIT University for partnering with us in this event, as well as Mr Charlie Huang for his expertise. We also extend our thanks to all those who attended.