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Chinese, Australian economies thrive on free trade: CEO

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-03-28 15:33

SYDNEY -- In the wake of the the landmark visit to Australia by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the robust relationship between the two nations has been strengthened even further, said the chief executive of one of Australia's largest companies.

Jean-Sebastien Jacques, chief executive officer of mining giant Rio Tinto, spoke to Xinhua on Tuesday, saying Li's visit, one which marked the 45 year relationship between Australia and China, demonstrates a "strong commitment" to the bilateral relationship.

"Australia and China have solid foundations for continued and sustained cooperation due to their common economic interests," Jacques said.

The mining chief pointed to his own company's successful ties to China, as a model for what other companies could achieve if they took advantage of developing a strong connection, particularly in the resources sector.

"Our Channar Iron Ore Joint Venture with Sinosteel and our BaoHi Range Joint Venture with Baosteel are models for Australia-China partnership in the resources sector," Jacques said.

"We would like to pursue more mutually-beneficial opportunities like Channar and BaoHi Range. Premier Li's visit brought government, business and other partners together to discuss and pursue win-win benefits for all."

The trade cooperation between Australia and China has been pivotal in the success of the two nations over the years. This strong relationship has seen Australia be one of the largest providers of resources to China, resources that have helped drive China's own infrastructure boom.

Rio Tinto has long played their own role in this trade relationship according to Jacques, who said China is now the largest customer for the mining giant, who accounts for over 43 percent of their yearly gross sales.

"Rio Tinto has shipped more than 2 billion tons of iron ore into China since 1973, helping build China's modern cities and providing enormous benefits to the people of Australia through export revenue and taxes," Jacques said.

Jacques highlighted his company's "one hundred year trading ties with China" and expressed his belief that it is these partnerships and their constant development that ensure for a stronger bilateral and global economic and political outlook.

"These enduring relationships can only be made stronger by a strengthened relationship between the two countries to make sure the region is peaceful and prosperous," Jacques said.

One of the big drivers of not only China's future economic outlook, but the global outlook, will be the development of the Belt and Road Initiative over the coming years.

The Belt and Road Initiative is set to redefine the boundaries for global trade, providing the necessary infrastructure and framework to not only bring even more of China's population into prosperity, but to empower prosperity across the globe.

The mining boss is excited about the progress of the Belt and Road Initiative, saying the fact that it will cover 65 percent of the world's population, one third of the global GDP and a quarter of all goods and services demonstrates the "heart of its vision", open trade and cooperation.

"I had the privilege to chair the Belt and Road panel at the 2017 China Development Forum in Beijing, to discuss with international business leaders how the initiative will help build strategic partnerships and enhance regional trade," Jacques said.

"Infrastructure is the key to supporting global growth. It underpins communities and builds nations."

"This is very important not only to China but also to the many countries that will directly benefit from the vision of the Belt and Road Initiative, including Australia."

In terms of the future, the mining chief is clear that his company Rio Tinto would develop even closer ties with their largest customer China.

"We view the China relationship as a mutual partnership," Jacques said.

"At Rio Tinto, we want to be China's preferred supplier, preferred customer and preferred partner in the resources sector."

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