Event Recap | Asia Briefing LIVE 2018
Sydney 1 November 2018
Last week we brought to life our monthly newsletter, Asia Briefing, with our first Asia Briefing LIVE - an executive non-partisan forum taking the pulse of Asia and Australia's engagement with the region. In partnership with Bloomberg, the event brought together 100 senior business, policy, and education leaders for a half-day deep dive into the geopolitical, economic, and business drivers shaping our shared region. It was addressed, among others, by Prime Minister Scott Morrison - who used the event to give his first major foreign policy address – Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen, and international guest speakers US-based China expert, Professor Minxin Pei, and Indian Chairman of Business Standards Ltd, TN Ninan.
The conference was broken down into 4 major panels – Asia’s geopolitics, economics, business engagement, and Australia’s place in the region – with the rising threat of a US-China trade war at the centre of all discussion.
Stay tuned, join, follow us, subscribe to Asia Briefing to keep informed, as Australia charts its course through difficult geostrategic and geoeconomic dynamics in Asia.
"You can’t expect to have a Cold War and a hot economy at the same time." Professor Minxin Pei, Tom and Margot Pritzker ’72 Professor of Government, Claremont McKenna College
"If we are going to point fingers at China, let’s look inward and get our own houses in order." Dr Jane Golley, Associate Professor and Acting Director, Australian Centre on China in the World, Australian National University
"People talk too much about the Quad. We need to talk about a regional cooperation concept." H.E. LEE Baeksoon, Ambassador, Republic of Korea
"I don’t see conflict between the Asia Pacific and Indo Pacific. It doesn’t diminish our ability to cooperate." H.E. Kwok Fook Seng, High Commissioner, Republic of Singapore
"America is our ally and that will remain. U.S. economic and security engagement in the region is in Australia's national interest." Richard Maude, Deputy Secretary, Indo-Pacific Group, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
MODERATOR Haidi Stroud-Watts, Sydney anchor, “Daybreak Australia”, Bloomberg
More insights and analysis on whether it's time for Australia to pick sides at Asia Briefing #11 | Asia Briefing LIVE Special Edition
Asia's economies and markets in the grip of a trade war:
The panel of economists argued that if Australia does not refresh and reboot existing institutions like the WTO it might end up in a world that has two trading blocks, two currencies, and two Internets. This overarching U.S.-China binary was reflected in the poll - no-one at Asia Briefing LIVE voted that Australia will come out unscathed if the U.S.-China trade war continues to escalate.
There was talk about Australia recasting its primary economic partner as India. International guest speaker TN Ninan explained that this would require Australia to move beyond a simplistic binary of import/export and recognise India as a competitor.
"I don’t think that India is about to become a second China but it will be number two to China." TN Ninan, Chairman, Business Standards Ltd
"It (US-China trade war) could be worse than we might hope." The Hon. Chris Bowen MP, Member for McMahon, Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Small Business
"These institutions (like WTO) need to be reformed and take account of new players like China and India." Heather Ridout AO, Chair, Australian Super
"Global growth is dependent on the US, but rates are being tightened there." Sally Auld, Chief Economist and Head, AUS/NZ Fixed Income and FX Strategy, J.P. Morgan
MODERATOR Michael Heath, Australia economics reporter, Bloomberg
More insights and analysis on the "two unorthodox personalities conducting a new Cold War" at Asia Briefing #11 | Asia Briefing LIVE Special Edition
There was broad consensus that the Australian government has dragged China through its domestic policy with 75% of guests voting management to be clumsy and inconsistent.
Australia's business engagement also came under scrutiny with concerns that it has shut its doors to Asia. Huawei was banned from rolling out 5G across Australia, and CKI Group's bid for gas pipeline operator APA faces possible rejection on national security grounds. 64% of Asia Briefing LIVE guests supported these lock-out laws, voting that Australia is right to protect its assets from potentially hostile foreign ownership.
"You're potentially looking at a balkanisation of the internet and the global trading order we've grown used to." Ed Johnson, Managing Editor, Australia and New Zealand, Bloomberg News
"Ninan's idea that India is now exporting as much in value terms as Australia exports in agricultural produce is going to be quite a shocking idea to the Australian agricultural sector." Greg Earl, Editor, Asia Briefing, Asia Society Australia
More insights and analysis from Greg Earl at Asia Briefing #11 | Asia Briefing LIVE Special Edition
Australia open for business:
Despite numerous concerns about rising Chinese debt, 55% of Asia Briefing LIVE guests see China as the biggest opportunity for Australian business. India came in second but with only 24% support.
"The Australian economy has had a great run, but complacency comes with that." Mark Whelan, Group Executive Institutional, ANZ
What is the long-term view? That is something you don’t see boards talking about." Swati Dave, Chief Executive Officer, Export Finance and Insurance Corporation & Board Member, Asia Society Australia
"China is a great opportunity because it is a diversification (for investors) but it is still hard to access this." Steve Holmes, CFA Senior Portfolio Manager and Research Strategist, Queensland Investment Corporation
"There’s no doubt that for Australian exporters, the future is in China." Martin Tricaud, Chief Executive Officer, HSBC Australia
MODERATOR Ed Johnson, Managing Editor, Australia and New Zealand, Bloomberg News
More insights and analysis on Australia's slow uptake of Asia at Asia Briefing #11 | Asia Briefing LIVE Special Edition
A word from the PM:
Prime Minister The Hon. Scott Morrison MP delivered his first foreign policy address at Asia Briefing LIVE. The PM acknowledged the growing challenge in navigating relationships with both the US and China, but was confident that Australia could get on with "business as usual".
Morrison outlined that Australia's foreign policy priority is not China, but the Pacific, because “this is where we live.” He opted for more infrastructure development like the Papua New Guinea/Solomon Islands internet cable taken over from Chinese construction and closer work with Pacific countries on climate change and disaster recovery. The PM detailed how Australia would work with China in the Pacific in an effort to avoid upsetting the improvement in bilateral relations which now seems underway.
“We support the strongest possible US political, security, and economic engagement in the Indo-Pacific...but it is important that US-China relations do not become defined by confrontation.” The Hon. Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister of Australia
More insights from the PM at Asia Briefing #11 | Asia Briefing LIVE Special Edition
Read the full speech here >>
This event was presented in partnership with: