Summit to make China’s future Sydney’s business

Sydney’s small business community will get the inside scoop on how to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities in China at a forum hosted by the City of Sydney at Sydney Town Hall today.

The Future Asia Business Summit will see Westpac executive David Lindberg explore current economic trends, market insights and challenges in China, along with what local businesses can do to set themselves up for future success.

More than 300 business and government representatives are expected at the event, that is part of the annual Sydney Chinese New Year Festival – the biggest celebration of the Lunar New Year outside mainland China.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the summit presented Sydney businesses with a unique opportunity to learn how they can benefit from China’s economic growth.

“China is Australia’s largest export market for both goods and services – accounting for nearly a third of total exports – and a growing source of foreign investment,” the Lord Mayor said.

“With the recent signing of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, and China’s ongoing transition to a services and consumption-led economy, now is the time for the city’s businesses to take advantage of new openings in China.

“Our future economic competitiveness depends greatly on the connections we make with our Asian neighbours – not only in the professional services and financial sectors, but also in retail, tourism, education and the creative industries.

“Today’s summit will give businesses an unprecedented opportunity to learn from some of Australia’s foremost China business experts on how they can benefit from both recent developments and future trends.”

David Lindberg, Westpac’s Chief Executive of Commercial and Business Banking, said: “Westpac is excited to partner with the City of Sydney to assist the business community to take advantage of emerging opportunities across Asia.

“China is transforming itself in significant ways as it transitions to the next stage of economic development. It is moving from a manufacturing and construction-led economy to a services and consumer-led economy.

“This provides a vast landscape of new opportunities for the Australian services sector, where today services account for 70 per cent of our economy but only 20 per cent of our exports. This presents great prospects for healthcare, education, professional services, tourism, hospitality and agricultural services – it is an exciting time to be an Australian business.”

On recent global economic news, Mr Lindberg said: “It isn’t as bad as the headlines would have you believe.” He urged businesses to continue to invest toward our shared prosperity.

Following Mr Lindberg’s keynote address, he will be joined by a panel discussion featuring four experts on Australia-China business and economic relations:

  • Benjamin Sun – Director at Think China, a China-focused e-commerce and digital marketing agency;
  • Joy Chen – Executive Director and NSW Leader of China Business Group at Ernst & Young;
  • Elliot Clarke – Director and Senior Economist at Westpac; and
  • Sara Cheng – Senior Manager of China Practice at NSW Business Chamber.

The summit is the first of several City-led opportunities this year for Sydney businesses to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities in China.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Sydney’s sister city relationship with Guangzhou, the City will lead a delegation to the southern Chinese economic hub from 30 May to 2 June, showcasing Sydney’s dynamic economy, industry and culture to potential Chinese partners.

Events are being run by the Australia China Business Council, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney and 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, and will include a full-day business summit, sustainability forum, international student alumni event, contemporary art exhibition and concert.

Other City initiatives to strengthen connections with Asia include:

  • Providing ‘China Connect’ training workshops to help local tourism and retail providers understand and respond to the needs of Chinese customers;
  • Sponsoring the annual Sydney China Business Forum;
  • Working with retailers to take advantage of promotional opportunities during Chinese New Year; and
  • Sponsoring and hosting last year’s successful China Australia Millennial Project, which brought together young Chinese and Australian entrepreneurs.

These programs are part of the City’s 10-year Economic Development Strategy, that aims to strengthen business competitiveness, improve business productivity and capacity, and promote opportunities for the local business community.