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Wednesday the 9th April 2014 saw a memorable conference at Fraser's in Kings Park. The Western Australia - China Agribusiness Cooperation Conference attracted around 150 delegates from China, equaled in numbers by local Australian delegates. The purpose of the Chinese delegation was to search for local Australian providers of various agricultural product; ranging from wheat to wine to beef. The day saw a speech from the Honourable Minister for Agriculture and Food Ken Baston, the Consul-General of the People's Republic of China in Perth Dr Huang Qin Guo, a panel of highly qualified speakers and the signing of a MOU for the live export of cattle to China and more.
When speaking to the delegation in the morning, Minister Baston made the comments that "today's MOU agreement will be a key achievement in the live export goal to China... In order for the WA agricultural industry to flourish, we need access to new and expanding markets". As the Prime Minister was in China promoting that Australia was open for business, minister Baston was reinforcing this in WA, by saying to the high profile delegation that "the government supports investment in our agricultural sector", followed by "we are open for business, and ready for investment. We need to be open to new business partners and models." The minister also spoke of the importance in equipping our agri-industry to compete internationally.
The Consul General of the PRC in Perth Dr Huang addressed the delegation, who were keen for a holistic story of what it is like to do business in Australia. The Consul General spoke on the security and benefits of Chinese businesses engaging in agribusiness in Australia. He also gave words of caution on the level of infrastructure readiness and various cultural insecurities around Chinese investment in Australia.
Other Chinese panel speakers spoke on the 'Chinese Perspective' of doing business in Australia. Topics such as lop-sided media coverage of Chinese investment, high labour costs and visa processing issues came up in the conversation as challenges to be expected. Saying this, dairy, wheat, beef and other 'agriproduct' from Australia is so well regarded in China that it would appear to be something the Chinese market will overlook hurdles to obtain.
The State President of the ACBC Mr Adam Handley jumped in for a 'myth-busters' session, talking to a number of erroneous concerns the Australian general public regularly focuses on. Some of these concerns included 'China is buying all of our land', and 'China is our largest foreign investor' etc. The talk was insightful and well received. Other great talks were conducted by: