Business / Economy

Australia, China well placed to help each other in economy: bank executive

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-08-29 13:39

MELBOURNE - The Chinese and Australian economies strongly complement each other which should lead to a mutually beneficial relationship over the coming decade, a top bank executive has said.

China's rapidly growing middle class and increased demand for top quality consumer products could prove to be of significant economic benefit to Australia, according to the CEO of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) in China, Xiaoguang Huang.

"I would say China and Australia are connected and both complement each other at the moment. Australia has a very strong agriculture business and China imports a lot and Australia is a destination for education and tourism," Huang told Xinhua in Melbourne.

"So I would say Australia has a great opportunity in this period of time to export. The beef export to China, year on year, went up more than 40 percent from Australia to China and wine went up 133 percent year on year.

"I feel we can work together because China is still a developing country and Australia is a developed country and we can probably share a lot of experience ... we can probably learn from each other.

"From a market point of view, I think what China needs (Australia) can offer and what you need China can offer."

Huang said that a million Chinese tourists who visit Australia every year are pouring $5 billion into the Australian economy, up 40 percent.

The average spending of $5,000 each, most of which was spent in the retail sector according to Chinese consultancy firm Cross Border Management (CBM), tops the average amount spent by tourists from the United States and Britain.

He said the key for China to pivot to a domestic-driven economy from an export-driven one was to convince the middle class to spend that money in China by improving public benefit schemes.

"When you look at the World Bank research they are talking about by 2025 or 2035, those ten years, China's going to create 600 million people going into middle class based on World Bank's standard; double the United States population, so if these people start spending money, the economy will be much more domestic driven instead of export investment driven," Huang said in the Xinhua interview.

"We don't have very good medical care nationwide so people save money for uncertainties in the future. People save money for retirement because we don't have a very good nationwide retirement system.

"So then the government says "okay I want to make sure you don't have those worries," then you can go and spend money.

"I think it will take a generation because cultural change is hard."

Huang previously worked as the president of Citibank in China and president of Bank of America Merrill Lynch China and was the recipient of China Business News' Financier of the Year in 2008.

A resident of Shanghai, Huang said China was well equipped to deal with an upcoming period of slow economic growth globally.

"Every country that talks about economy talks about two major issues: job market and inflation. We don't have an inflation issue, we don't have a job market issue in China, so in general I would say still a manageable economy," he said.

"But you do see structure issues, you do see China is in a transformation and China's economy is in a turning point going to a new stage and if they can make the transition smoothly, then you will probably see another wave of growth."

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