Australia China Economic Trade & Investment Expo – Address by ACBC National President David Olsson

19 Nov 2020
Posted By: ACBC National

On November 20, National President of the Australia China Business Council, David Olsson, addressed attendees of the 2020 Australia China Economic Trade & Investment Expo (ACETIE).

In recognising the current tensions in the Australia-China relationship, Mr Olsson remarked that events such as ACETIE “play an important role in building the connections and understandings that can lead to solutions.” He also noted that this was the second year ACBC has assisted with the Expo, curating a stand-alone session focussed on “Global Health Tech Innovation in an Era of Turbulence.”

Mr Olsson acknowledged the unpredictability and pace of change due to the pandemic, rising geo-political tensions and a frosty political relationship between Australia and China, noting that the business landscape has fundamentally changed and we have to now “challenge ourselves to think differently about how and where we do business.”

“As we move into a post-COVID world, companies that are seeking growth or diversification will need to reset and rethink their strategies, restructure supply chains, embrace digital platforms and commit to deepening their understanding of the Asian and global markets.”

Mr Olsson then identified some facts that justify why China will remain more important than ever

  • China is the driver of economic growth in the region and will be so for many years to come
  • China’s middle class continues to expand in terms of absolute size as well as its buying power
  • Despite the tensions in our political relations with China, Australian brands continue to be well-liked and sought out by Chinese consumers.
  • China’s evolution in its digital economy continues to evolve and accelerate.

While there are merits to calls for greater trade diversification, Mr Olsson recognised that, in the short to medium term, there is no replacement for the China market that complements Australia’s economy and whose affluent middle class has a taste for our quality, clean, green and safe products.

“ACBC encourages companies to explore a ‘China Plus’ strategy – a strategy where we reaffirm our existing trade relationship with China AND at the same time actively seek growth in new markets in the region.

“Our national priority right now is to rebuild our post-pandemic economy. Seeking growth in the emerging markets of Asia is important but we do not have to make a binary choice. We know the China markets well, our brands are desired, and we have the connections to support us through these tough times. Our message is – recalibrate in China to reflect the new conditions, but look also to other markets for further growth.”

In concluding Mr Olsson urged for constructive political dialogue to resolve issues of contention, by continuing to seek opportunities for mutual benefit, and from continuing close trade and investment ties and a valuable web of people-to-people contacts and relationships.