James O’Loughlin, the former CEO and Executive Director on the Board of the Australian of the Australian Chamber of Commerce (AustCham) in Shanghai, has spoken of the importance of strengthening business ties with China.
Mr O’Loughlin, who is also the founding partner of Three Towers Consulting – a company dedicated to promoting direct investments into Australia while assisting Australian businesses set up or expand their operations in the country with a population in excess of 1.3 billion – was the keynote speaker at the City of Joondalup’s first business forum of 2016, held on Monday 21 March at Joondalup Resort’s Lakeview Ballroom.
Trading with China: Opportunities for Joondalup proved a popular theme with the capacity audience of 180 people.
Attendees included representatives of the local business community, politicians, major corporate organisations and companies from across the Perth metropolitan area, members of the media and other key City stakeholders.
Many were keen to find out just what the China Australia Free Trade Agreement – which came into effect in December 2015 – means for them and their business.
Mr O’Loughlin said it was important that Australian businesses acted now to investigate potential opportunities to expand into China.
“One of the great opportunities that Australians has in China is that it is such a diverse country. It has diversity in its people, in its language, in its culture. We mustn’t think of China as one opportunity but as many opportunities,” he said.
“The City I live in has a population of five million more people than the country I am from. China has 232 Cities with a greater population than Perth. Stop thinking of China as a whole; find some partnership and some friendship and some commercial and economic opportunity in one small part of China.
“The time to act is now. The Chinese are the best business partners you could possibly have.”
Joondalup Mayor Troy Pickard and CEO Garry Hunt spoke about the success of a City led delegation to China last year, which coincided with the 10-year anniversary of Joondalup’s Sister City relationship with Jinan.
Whilst in China, meetings and discussions were held with the Mayor of Jinan and senior officials from the Jinan Foreign Affairs Office, Jinan Tourism Bureau, Jinan Commerce Bureau, Jinan Vocational College and the Shandong Academy of Medical Sciences regarding beneficial business prospects.
The City’s Investment Attraction Prospectus Joondalup Has the Edge – translated into Mandarin specifically for the visit – was also introduced to the Chinese market.
Mayor Pickard said many opportunities had opened up for Joondalup on the global stage following last year’s visit.
“There was significant interest and enthusiasm from the Jinan People’s Municipal Government to explore and advance opportunities to further trade and business interests in Joondalup and the northern growth corridor,” Mayor Pickard said.
Since the delegation returned to Western Australia, the City has held several meetings with key industry stakeholders in the spheres of tourism, education, aged care and digital/information technology and has also commissioned targeted research into what opportunities Jinan industries want to pursue in Joondalup.
“Tourism and hospitality contributed about $850 million to the Joondalup economy in 2013-14 and according to Tourism Research Australia, there were 41,000 international visitors and almost 1.2 million visitor nights in the City that same year. These are pretty exciting statistics that we as a City can capitalise on,” Mayor Pickard said.
“The City can be proud of the international partnerships it has forged and we firmly believe that the future prosperity of Joondalup will be advanced by these connections.
“The City remains committed to ensuring that Joondalup has a place on the world stage and that our stakeholders and our community benefit from our collective efforts to build and strengthen trade connections and to focus on the international promotion of Joondalup.”
Mr Hunt said all successful Cities operated in a global marketplace and not in isolation.
He said the City of Joondalup was now in the process of recruiting an International Economic Development Advisor to attract international investment into the City and to support local businesses seeking to expand internationally.
“The competition for business, investment and talent is international. The range of specialist knowledge and research expertise available in the City of Joondalup presents a compelling and attractive opportunity for any business seeking to grow and connect globally,” he said.