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So what  makes Beijing so special? One reason is the  whole China phenomenon.  

China will be keen to display its economic credentials to the world in Beijing and how advanced it is as an open market economy.

This is particularly important to Australia as China, even (by calendar year 2006) second largest export  market (worth over $24 billion), our second largest trading partner ($50  billion worth of two-way trade) and a burgeoning source of and destination  for foreign investment. [In fact some commentators have included Hong Kong with China to show that the combined total of the two markets now surpasses Japan in terms of two-way trade with Australia].  

China’s economic progress has not only benefited the blue chip corporates such as the likes of BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Woodside and ANZ, as many Australian SMEs are heading within the great trade wall of China.  According to Austrade/ABS/Sensis research, over 3800 Australian businesses export goods to China and 20 per cent of all exporting SMEs are involved in the China market – a proportion  that has doubled in only two years.


According to Peter Osborne, Australia’s Senior Trade Commissioner in Beijing, who doubles as China Country manager: "We have a wide variety of Australian clients involved not just in resources but in new sectors, such as financial services. The demand business advice here in China is growing so strongly that we have grown our extensive Greater China network to 15 offices, and you’ll find an Austrade presence as far north as Dalian and as far south as Kunming."


Osborne expects the Beijing Olympics will be not only an opportunity for China to showcase the opportunities in its vast market, but it will also be an opportunity for Australia to display our credentials as well. "Every man and his dog will be in Beijing, so the Australians have got to show a strong showing too," he said.




 In fact, the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics itself has created some new opportunities for Australian exporters. The Sydney Olympics’ hard won reputation not only as the "best games ever" but also the "Green" games has helped build Australia’s brand as being innovators in areas such as environmentally friendly design, infrastructure and technology.

As well as environmentally friendly design work undertaken by PTW Architects on the Olympic Village and the athletic facilities. Australian companies have also been involved in logistics, including traffic flow around Beijing and related infrastructure and have transferred water reticulation technology which was first developed for the  Sydney Olympic Games. And with the rise of global warming and the volume of greenhouse gas emissions emanating from China,  it is crucial that Australia have its green credentials on  display in Beijing.

Already companies like Victorian  based Novatech Controls, has developed oxygen analysers to reduce  emissions in power plants of the north west city of Xian, and companies  like Stratcon, Barefoot Power and Global Sustainable Energy have provided  environmental consultancies and technologies throughout China. Even Woodhead International, our BCA success story of 2000, have changed their operations with the objective in becoming carbon neutral, not only in their design, but also in their own operations. Woodhead plans to reduce their own emissions by 10-15 per cent within three to five years, and are  also creating designs that will have similar effects for their clients –  particularly in China  and India.

According to Woodhead’s Managing Director Geoffrey Lee: "China in particular is very conscious of the environmental impact of its huge growth and is desperate for experts to help address these issues."    The road from Sydney to Beijing has brought many opportunities for Australian companies looking to expand into the vast China market but to also promote their business potential and first-class standards worldwide. In 2000, a small architectural firm like Woodhead seized its chance to go global into South East Asia and ultimately China.

Now, in the lead-up to Beijing in 2008, it is again taking the opportunity to promote its environmental credentials. Many Australian exporters will take the same path as  Woodheads. And in many ways, just as the Sydney Olympics in 2000 were an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Australia to showcase its economic capability, the Beijing Olympics in 2008 will be an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Australia to show its strong capability in environmental exports.

This will not only help boost Australia’s trade and investment with China but will ultimately assist the whole world by helping to combat climate change.For that reason, the Beijing Olympics in 2008 could be significant to the whole world in more way than one.

So let’s bring them on!   

*Tim Harcourt is chief economist of the Australian Trade Commission and author of Beyond Our Shores – see: www.austrade.gov.au/economistscorner 

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