China’s Belt and Road Initiative presents a “very profound opportunity for Australia”, Trade Minister Steven Ciobo said yesterday.
Mr Ciobo, who attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing on Sunday, said Australia supports initiatives which improve infrastructure development and increase trade and investment opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region.
Under the new initiative China will invest up to US$150 billion along the Belt and Road over the next five years.
“Participants had productive discussions on planned activities along the Belt and Road and how they should be delivered,” Mr Ciobo said.
“Among the sessions I attended included a panel on trade connectivity where I participated in a discussion on energising investment, stressing the gains from open markets.”
“Australian companies have the expertise and experience to contribute to Belt and Road infrastructure projects. Open bidding processes will lead to better outcomes for all countries.”
Mr Ciobo said Australia supported the "Initiative on Promoting Unimpeded Trade Cooperation along the Belt and Road" statement issued at the end of the trade session.
Increasing trade liberalisation
The statement aligns with Australia's position on resisting protectionism and increasing trade liberalisation.
“China's made it very clear that it intends to use the Belt Road initiative as an opportunity to build infrastructure not only domestically in China, but to also link together economies across the region and into Europe,” Mr Ciobo said.
“That presents very profound opportunity for Australia.”
Mr Ciobo said Australia has a long track record of success in the financing, design and construction of infrastructure.
“There's much that we can do in a collaborative sense between Australia, China and other third countries that are part of the Belt and Road corridor, and I believe that it represents a significant commercial opportunity for Australia given our very strong relationship with China and also surrounding countries.
“China is our major trading partner. Australia certainly brings much to the table when it comes to experience.”
“I have no doubt that Australian businesses will be able to play their role in coming years.”