PRESIDENT’S COLUMN: A 20-strong delegation from the Chinese province of Sichuan visited the Glover Cottages last week, and said they wanted to form a close relations with New South Wales in general, and AIIA (NSW) in particular.
Headed by Mr Chen Zongde and Ms Fang Fang, both directors of the Foreign Affairs office of Sichuan province,
they were visiting Sydney and Canberra as part of a study tour, aimed at a better understanding of Australia’s relations with China, particularly in the areas of trade, investment and tourism.
They also sought to understand the role of the AIIA in educating the community on international affairs.
The meeting was hosted by AIIA NSW president Colin Chapman, supported by two board members, Professor Jocelyn Chey, and Ms Phoebe Alexander, who are organising a three-week AIIA NSW study tour to China in November.
Mr Chapman told the group that Australia was more reliant on China as a buyer of its output than any other country, taking more than one third of its exports, a record high, and more than double the level of five years ago.
He said the perception was that these exports were predominantly minerals, but China was also the leading purchaser of agricultural products, the largest single source of tourism and migrants, and the fourth largest purchaser of manufactured goods. The biggest slice of the latter was medical and pharmaceutical products, where exports had grown by 200 per cent over the past three years.
The AIIA NSW president said the new Abbott government was keen to try and conclude a freed trade treaty with China, with foreign minister Julie Bishop listing this as a priority. He also said that Australia welcomed Chinese investment, although controversy was likely in the future over some purchases of agricultural land.
Colin Chapman is the President of the AIIA (NSW).