Speech at Official Opening of Sydney Branch of Agricultural Bank of China Sofitel, Sydney, 28 April 2014

Release Date: 
28 April 2014
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  • Mr Zhang Yun, Vice Chairman, Executive Director, President, Agricultural Bank of China
  • His Excellency Ma Zhaoxu, China’s Ambassador to Australia
  • The Hon Andrew Stoner, Deputy Premier, Minister for Trade and Investment, NSW
  • Dr John Laker, Chairman, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority

It is a pleasure to be here at the grand opening of the Sydney branch of the Agricultural Bank of China – one of the largest banks in the world.

The PM is unfortunately unable to attend this evening due to other commitments but sends his best wishes to you and asks that I relay the following message:

I am pleased to provide this message for the Sydney branch opening of the Agricultural Bank of China.

This branch opening is a vote of confidence in the economic relationship between Australia and China.

The Government is doing its part to strengthen this relationship and encourage more trade with China.

This month I led Australia’s most high-powered delegation ever to China. It included federal, state and territory leaders, 30 of our most senior chairmen and CEOs, and 700 Australian business people ready to do more trade with our Asian neighbour.

More trade between our nations means more jobs and eventually better jobs for all.

Australia’s relationship with China has grown as our trade has increased. The relationship has broadened into areas such as education, science and defence.

I welcomed Premier Li’s commitment to accelerate Australia-China free trade talks and I hope they might be concluded by the time President Xi visits Australia in November.

My hope is that in the years ahead, Australians will see first-hand the benefits of closer, freer trade with Asia – through more jobs, more affordable goods and services and even closer bonds with our North Asian friends and neighbours.

I send you my best wishes for this branch opening.

Please allow me to add a few additional remarks to the Prime Minister’s message.

The opening of this bank in Sydney is an extension of the strong relationship that exists between Australia and China.

It is relationship mostly known because of our significant two way trade.

China is our Australia’s biggest trading partner

And as a result of the agreement of Premier Li and PM Abbott in China recently to accelerate free trade talks, it is likely that our trade relationship will continue to grow.  

But our relationship is more than just trade.  Our people to people links are also strong. 

China is also our largest source of immigrants in most years….

….. our largest source of overseas students

…… our largest source of international tourists.

…..and Chinese languages are now the most widely spoken in Australia apart from English.

But part of the relationship I wish to emphasise tonight, and this of course relates to the opening of the bank,  is the investment relationship.

More than trade, investment in another country is a sign of trust. 

By definition it is long term. It involves the overseas company integrating into the economic, social and cultural institutions of the destination country.

And our investment relationship is also very strong.

Total Chinese investment in Australia, at about $60 billion, is only a little less than total Chinese investment in the United States.

Your opening of the Sydney branch of your bank is a welcome development and further extension of that trust.

I understand the Bank has the largest staff and branch presence in China, with over 23,000 branches in mainland China and an overseas presence in 13 countries around the world.

Having a Bank of your size will provide a new source of funding for corporate lending and trade finance for Australian-Chinese interests in sectorssuch as agriculture and mining.

With the Bank’s new Sydney Branch, the ‘Big Four’ Chinese banks all have a branch presence in Australia.

And likewise, Australia’s own ‘Big Four’ banks all have a presence in China and that involvement is set to grow.

We have ANZ which has opened a sub-branch in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, and I understand Westpac will also do so shortly.

These developments will help to expand trade and investment between our countries, be it through providing necessary trade finance or funding investments across our borders.

This event symbolises the growing commercial ties between Australia and China, and the development of business prospects which will benefit both our regions.

On behalf of the Australian Government, I warmly congratulate you, I welcome you to Sydney, and wish you good fortune today and in the years ahead.