Insights from 2017 Future Asia Business Summit – City of Sydney

More than 350 industry and government leaders congregated at Sydney Town Hall for the summit which had an emphasis on strengthening Sydney’s economic relations in Asia.  Alibaba, the world’s largest e-commerce platform recently launched in Australia, and the focus was on how Sydney businesses can engage with consumers, navigate regulatory challenges associated with operating in foreign markets and the influence of Sydney’s global city status.

Sydney has the reputation of being one of the world’s safest and friendliest cities according to City of Sydney Councillor Robert Kok, with high levels of education, and being a leading financial Centre with 44 of the top 50 global banks.

Asia has two-thirds of the world’s population, we are seeing an increasing number of direct flights to Chinese cities, while the sister city relationship with Guangzhou recently celebrated 30 years.

E-Commerce driving business and consumer purchases

Maggie Zhou, local MD of Alibaba provided insights into the Chinese consumer with Sydney’s lifestyle world class food and unique living conditions attractive to those with an increasing focus on health and of course the importance of family.

Alipay has 450 million users and is more widely used than cash in China. Those businesses in Australia such as Peters at the Sydney fish markets are driving international sales. Jack Ma, Chairman of Alibaba Group visited our famous attraction during his recent trip to Australia.

There are also opportunities beyond China with increasing growth in South East Asia and India with Alibaba acquiring India’s eWallet with a focus on consumer markets.

Demand for Australian products

The diagou or local Chinese community are important to help Australia build their brand here before entering the China market. There is also a trend toward celebrity endorsement with lack of knowledge on Australian products.

Christine Holgate from Blackmores shared some of the challenges as well as good times but sees huge prospects for Australia from China. They augment the Alibaba platform and daigous with their own channels as well. Whilst there many challenges, change can also provide opportunities.

The Made in Australia brand is very attractive in China, sourcing of the best quality ingredients from all over the world and manufactured in Australia.

What about Services?

China is moving from industry to services and David Landers from Austrade said services are seeing high double-digit growth rates, including tourism and education in greater China and South East Asia.

For SME’s in services, the opportunities vary country by country.  David noted with the government is creating conditions necessary for Australian companies to be successful with the various high-quality Free Trade Agreements. But whilst these open the door, businesses still need to go through! It’s all about implementation.

What other opportunities are there for Australia?

This year China-Australia Year of Tourism. We are currently seeing more than one million tourists a year. Interestingly only 5% of Chinese currently having passports there is huge potential.

New Zealand is rated number 1 in the world for doing business vs Australia at number 14 so how can we make it easier?

You can watch and listen to the speeches here.