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The Premier's plan to make Victoria China-ready

13 January 2015

The newly-elected premier of the Australian state of Victoria wants young bureaucrats to learn about Chinese culture and language in order to deepen the relationship with Victoria’s largest trade partner. In an interview with Australia Plus, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews says he is keen to take the advantage of the free trade agreement reached by Australia and China in 2014 to advance Victoria’s dairy and service exports to China.
“It is very exciting to see the free trade agreement that, for the first time takes a really bold step in terms of services. Being able to have much greater access and a much bigger profile and presence in China for services offered, or at least led by Victorian companies and consortia right out of Melbourne.” 
Mr Andrews says his government has committed to establishing cultural awareness fellowships to China in order for State government bureaucrats to be immersed in Chinese culture, and more importantly the practices of Chinese public administration. “It’s not just making sure that more university graduates in Victoria can speak Mandarin; we need to make sure there is a cultural awareness as well and deep understanding of Chinese economy, the way business is done in China, but also the way the Chinese government and public administration operates.”
Instead of sending a super trade mission to China again, the new Victorian government is more interested in getting more Chinese entrepreneurs, investors and government officials to Victoria to get first-hand experience of Victorian products and services. “We think that reverse trade missions, so bringing groups of investors, groups of officials from China to Victoria to see first hand our wine, our food, our manufacturing design, innovation, medical research, scientific research, product development and all of those professional services.
“We think that if Chinese restaurant owners and those that provide high quality food and beverage in some of the best hotels in Shanghai and Beijing for instance, come and visit the Mornington Peninsula, or come and visit Gippsland, or the north east of Victoria, and stand in the paddock and see the beef, taste the wine at the cellar door, see all the products in that very local setting, as well as meet with many of our scientists and engineers, they would be very confident to do business with Victoria.” 
Mr Andrews says Victoria's multicultural make-up gives the state an advantage as it strengthens its relationship with China. “There is a competitive advantage and a comparative advantage given, I think, our multiculturalism is the strongest anywhere in the world and we understand that this is not just an economic relationship. It is a much broader partnership than that. 
"To be friends, to be partners and then to do business. That seems to me the best order to do things in."
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