Smith: A Broader Linkage with Asia as Australia-China Relations Evolve

HONG KONG, July 31, 2012 — Michael Smith, chief executive officer of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ Bank), said the relations between Australia and China are on a course that would enable Australia to cement a much broader, long-term relationship with Asia. To this end, it is important for Australia to articulate a clear platform on what it wants from the relationship, which is then also agreed to by China.

Smith was speaking at Asia Society Hong Kong Center as part of the ANZ-Asia Society China Series, in an event moderated by Asia Society Co-Chair Ronnie C. Chan.

"Today, China is Australia's largest trading partner and its largest export market," said Smith. "It is high time for Australia to take a more comprehensive view of its relations with China and to work out a long-term plan." This coincides with the Australia government's white paper on Australia in the Asian Century, which is due to be released later this year. The white paper reviews the economic changes in the region, examines Australia's role in Asia, and identifies the nation's key challenges in positioning itself for "the Asian century."

Since the 1980s, Australia has been focusing on building policies that make the most of the opportunities arising from Asia's economic growth and rising living standards. Japan has been a major trading partner for many decades and Australia's linkages with South Korea continue to deepen. Smith maintained that Australia will play an important role in contributing to the economic growth of Vietnam and Indonesia in the near future.

"The Australia-China relationship, which in many ways is a metaphor for Australia's broader relationship with Asia, is deepening as it evolves," said Smith.

Reported by Wendy Tang

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