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Wayne Swan, Australia’s deputy prime minister and treasurer announced on Tuesday that Australia is expected to host the inaugural Australia-Hong Kong RMB trade and investment dialogue next month.
He was speaking at the Australian China Business Council (ACBC)’s Canberra Networking Day.
“The deepening relationship between China and Australia will continue to be one of the defining features of Australia’s economic story in the Asian century,” the minister said.
Australia, Swan said, believes the Chinese economy to be on the right trajectory to growth.
Swan said RMB-denominated trade settlement reached almost 3 trillion RMB in 2012, up 42 per cent in just one year.
In addition, the latest data shows the value of RMB payments more broadly increasing by a massive 171 per cent since January last year.
He also said that the Australian Treasury and the Reserve Bank of Australia have been working closely with the People’s Bank of China to set up direct trading between the RMB and the Australian dollar (AUS).
“There’s a significant opportunity here…” Swan said, “Tapping into this is just one of the policy pathways of the Asian Century White Paper that the government is working on.”
Swan pointed out that China is now 40 per cent larger than it was in 2008.
“So its growth rate can be 20 per cent lower – say 8 per cent now versus 10 per cent back then – for China to make the same contribution to global growth.”
The minister said he believes that China’s economic growth has stabilised.
“There’s no doubt we had two big risks in the global economy in 2012, but China was not one of them. Rolling crises in Europe and the United States dogged the global recovery last year and they are still the biggest risks on the horizon,” he said.
Swan urged China to address its big structural challenges like the huge amount of unregulated lending in its financial system and its transition to more consumption-led growth.
“It was encouraging to hear outgoing Premier Wen (Jiabao) say just a week ago that China’s continued reform and re-balancing towards domestic consumption would be critical for China’s future.”
Swan urged Australian businesses to “harness the opportunities on our doorstep.”
The minister also announced that Australia will redirect 6.5 million AUS ($6.63 million) to improve the Treasury ‘s engagement with the Asian region.