MELBOURNE, 29 March 2011 — Australia is more dependent on the Chinese economy as a market than any other country in the world, claimed Dr. Geoff Raby, Australian Ambassador to China, at an Asialink–Asia Society Australia Centre-ACBC luncheon.
Raby placed Australia's level of dependence above that of the United States, Japan, and even South Korea — and doesn't expect the situation to change.
"It’s hard to conceive the possibility of any other country on earth ever again replacing China as Australia's largest export market," he said.
Raby said that complementarities between the two country's economies would drive "deeper and deeper integration."
"Whether we like it or not, this is a very fundamental change in Australia's outlook and future," he said.
Speaking to an audience composing a range of Australian businesses, Raby spent much of his address explaining the likely ramifications for Australia of China's most recent five-year plan.
He also emphasised the educational linkages between the two countries and said more needs to be done to get Australians studying in China.
Raby also emphasized the strength of US-China relations, describing himself as "unashamedly sanguine" about the countries' recent engagement.
"We haven't begun to put in place the sort of bilateral structure and architecture and relationships that the United States and China have between them," he said.
Raby has held the position of Ambassador since February 2007 and will complete his service in August of this year.
Raby was Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) from November 2002 to November 2006. He has held a number of senior positions in DFAT, including First Assistant Secretary, International Organisations and Legal Division (2001-2002), Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organisation, Geneva (1998-2001) and First Assistant Secretary, Trade Negotiations Division (1995-1998). He was Australia's APEC Ambassador from November 2002 to December 2004.
This luncheon was presented with the Australia China Business Council, Victorian Branch and supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade.
Listen to a full podcast of Geoff Raby's talk
Reported by Will McCallum