POSTED on 12 November 2013 by Adrian Hearn

China Studies Centre-Commonwealth Treasury Roundtable

On Wednesday 6th November the China Studies Centre hosted a roundtable discussion with a delegation from the Commonwealth Treasury. Building on the success of the Sydney-China Business Forum, the roundtable enabled a head-to-head exchange of perspectives on the Chinese economy and Sino-Australian relations.

The Treasury delegation shared its perceptions of China’s reform process, particularly the likely evolution of state owned enterprises (SOEs) under Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang. Shifting productivity to the emerging private sector while retaining a role for SOEs in the delivery of public goods, planning, and infrastructure is one of the most important—and difficult—challenges facing China’s leaders. Treasury also presented its modelling of Chinese investment and consumption, noting that unprecedented urbanisation will underpin a shift of emphasis toward the latter. The proposed Australia-China Free Trade Agreement should be seen in this context, particularly since Australia wants to be in on the ground as China opens up its financial sector.

For the China Studies Centre, Hans Hendrischke and Wei Li presented the findings of their latest collaboration with KPMG, noting that Chinese investment in Australia remains small (3% of Australia’s FDI stock) compared to the United Kingdom (14%) and the United States (24%). Recent media attention and public debate about the merits and dangers of Chinese land acquisitions do not reflect a basic fact: Chinese investors hold only 1% of Australian land. Kerry Brown outlined two challenges facing Australian policymakers: simultaneously facilitate partnerships with China’s state and private sectors, and explore opportunities to access China’s massive market through the prospective FTA and the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. Adrian Hearn discussed Australia-China relations in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), whose proposed restrictions on SOEs provide new impetus for the long awaited Sino-Australian FTA and for closer Australian partnerships with private Chinese investors. Vivienne Bath described the Chinese government’s recent legislation relating to the conduct of Chinese corporations overseas, including approvals and on-going monitoring of outbound investment.

The meeting advanced a mutual interest in strengthening cooperation between the Commonwealth government and the University of Sydney. Like the roundtable exchange with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in February 2013, it enabled the Centre to engage with senior government advisors and provide policy-relevant critical input.

For enquiries please contact Adrian Hearn (adrian.hearn@sydney.edu.au)

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