Opening session of the China International Import Expo

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
Prime Minister

Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Your Excellency Li Qiang.


Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great pleasure to be with you at the China International Import Expo today.

This is my seventh visit to the People's Republic of China, but my first as Prime Minister of Australia.

And it is wonderful to be back here in this extraordinarily beautiful global city of Shanghai.

And I am delighted to see so many Australian business represented at this important event, and to be in the presence of people – from both sides of the relationship – who make success possible.

This year we mark three important 50th anniversaries.

The Whitlam Government’s establishment of Australia’s first embassy here in the People’s Republic of China.

The signing of the first trade agreement between our two nations.

And 50 years ago to the day, Gough Whitlam became the first Australian Prime Minister to visit China.

In the half century since, both our economies have transformed and modernised and diversified in ways that our predecessors could not have imagined.

Both our nations have benefited from a region that has grown and prospered, become more open and interconnected – a region that has been stable and peaceful.

Both our societies have gained from tourism and educational exchange, from innovators and small business operators.

And our trade in goods and services has nearly doubled since the China Australia Free Trade Agreement came into force – making more and more high quality Australian products available to consumers in China, and providing key inputs for Chinese businesses.

When we consider all the good that has flowed from those decisions half a century ago, it is a triple anniversary well worth celebrating.

It is just one chapter in what is a big and deeply exciting story.

And that story is that this region is growing faster than any other in human history.

And thanks to both Australia’s privilege of proximity, and our dynamism as a nation, we are well placed to add to the quality – and to the staying power – of that growth.

Our engagement benefits Australia but it also benefits our region.

As Australians, we take our place on the world stage seriously, with a strong emphasis on the contribution we can make in the Indo Pacific.

Whether it’s our iron ore, our beef, our technology, or our greatest asset – our people – Australia has so much to offer.

We are a key supplier of energy to Asia, including China, Japan and South Korea.

We export natural resources right around the Pacific Rim.

We have a global market for our agricultural products.

We are a provider of first-class services, particularly in health and education.

Our fast-growing tech sector is one of the largest in the southern hemisphere.

We are a reliable, high-quality supplier of commodities, including in agriculture, minerals and energy.

And we are ready to use our strength in critical minerals – as well as our abundant sun and wind resources — to support a secure and stable energy transition for the region.

All of this is so important. It is the lens through which we see so much of the future – for us as a nation, and for all of us as a region.

Australia’s relationship with China is a key part of all of this.

It is a mature relationship, energised by the complementary nature of our economies.

Along with the other economies in our region, Australia and China have prospered thanks to the certainty and stability that is made possible by rules-based trade.

Every country has a role to play in advancing trade that is both sustainable and inclusive. These are goals we can achieve through our domestic policies, and through fostering open and inclusive regional and international architecture.

There is, of course, also an important role for government to play in creating the right conditions for business to innovate and thrive, and helping business take advantage of market opportunities.

We do that by eliminating unnecessary barriers to trade and investment by fostering a level playing field and by working towards inclusive economic growth.

These are principles that have long been the foundation of Australia’s economy, giving it a dynamism and a resilience that has helped it weather some serious storms.

And even in this time of global uncertainty, Australia’s trade in goods and services reached a record level in 2022-23.

But it is not a success we guard jealously or try to keep to ourselves. It’s a success we want to share with the rest of the world. That is why Australia promotes free trade and open markets.

It’s why Australia will continue to be a constructive player in global economic architecture. Like China, we value our place at the table in the G20, APEC and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

And it’s why we continue to highly value the World Trade Organisation, whose role as an independent and respected umpire benefits us all.

The framework of trade rules provides certainty and opportunity for redress if problems arise.

The success of economies cannot be guaranteed, but we know that international trade benefits the lifting of global living standards.

And we know that constructive economic engagement between countries helps to build relationships and understanding – both of common interests, and where there are differences.

That is why the Government I lead will continue to work with China.

As the business people in this room understand so well, it is in all of our interests to have a relationship where there is dialogue.

I look forward to seeing the businesses represented here at the China International Import Expo building even stronger ties between our nations. You’ve already shown us what is possible.