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The state government’s strategic adviser for China and Norman Waterhouse Lawyers’ chairman of partners, Sean Keenihan, was yesterday named as vice president of the Australia China Business Council.
Former Victorian Premier John Brumby was elected president.
Mr Keenihan, currently the state president of ACBC, has served on the council for five years. As part of his new role he said he would ensure South Australia is “front and centre” in Australia’s relationship with China.
When Mr Keenihan first joined the ACBC the value of Australia’s trade relationship with China was worth $3000 per household. The latest data suggests that figure is now almost $15,000.
“The Australia-China Free Trade Agreement will lay the foundation for what could be unbridled growth between our two countries,” he said.
“I look forward to working with all members of the ACBC, from SMEs to multinationals, in creating new opportunities for trade and commercial development between China and Australia.”
Mr Keenihan advises the Weatherill Government on its engagement with China. A fluent Mandarin speaker, he also chairs the South Australia China Council, which is responsible for overseeing the implementation and refinement of the South Australia-China Engagement Strategy.
Mr Brumby, Premier of Victoria from 2007 to 2010, said the new board is united in its drive to expand the role of the ACBC through improved services to its 1000 members.
“Recent developments in Australia-China relations, including the free trade agreement, mean we can take our relationship to the next level, with major new opportunities in traded goods and services, as well as investments and R&D partnerships," he said.
“Although China is already our largest trading partner, there are still huge opportunities for companies involved in the Australia-China relationship to expand existing businesses or create new ones."
More than 130 Chinese investors, business migrants and economic leaders are in Adelaide this weekend to network with South Australian companies.
Over the next three days, the best of South Australia will be showcased to Chinese investors and potential business migrants.
Minister for Investment and Trade Martin Hamilton-Smith said the event will strengthen business and investment opportunities with China.
“Delegates will tour our famous wineries and world-class education facilities. They’ll meet with industry, business and government leaders to learn more about our China engagement projects. Business migrants will also hear from others who have successfully established businesses in South Australia," he said.
Fifteen local companies from the seafood, biotechnology, agribusiness, clean technology and wine sectors will pitch their business proposals to potential investors. Some of the proposals will include seafood businesses seeking distribution and marketing channels into new markets, and companies with new solutions to energy storage who require capital to advance production.
Companies at the conference will have the option to attend the second South Australia Cooperation and Development Forum in Shandong next year.
“With the signing of the historic free trade agreement between Australia and China, our state is ready to reap an abundance of opportunities across our innovative sectors including food and wine, education, tourism and urban development," Mr Hamilton-Smith said.