Australia has been chosen as the most favourable country to conduct business with by Chinese business leaders, according to a new report.
The study, by the National Australia Bank (NAB) and the Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI) at the University of Technology Sydney, found 97% of Chinese business leaders had a favourable economic impression of Australia.
Some 54% of Australian firms were favourable about doing business with China.
The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was cited by 76% of Chinese companies as playing some role in their decision to increase focus on Australia.
Chinese respondents said their most favoured countries to do business with after Australia were Canada (92%), Singapore (87%), and UK (85%).
However, only 35% of Australian businesses said the FTA had increased the amount of business they did with China.
Half of Australian firms surveyed said they had “engaged” with China while 90% of Chinese firms said they had engaged with Australia.
For Chinese respondents the biggest impediments to doing business in China were language and cultural barriers and too much competition, followed by the regulatory environment.
For Australians the key barriers were that the Chinese market is domestically focused, the transparency of the legal system and protection of intellectual property.
Respondents from both countries expect to increase engagement over the next 12 months.
Both sides identified manufacturing and wholesale trade as focal points for further engagement.
Angela Mentis, group executive of business banking at NAB Group, said: “The opportunity to engage with Chinese investors for business investment and partnership will provide for domestic and export growth.
“Australian service providers in health, education, governance and professional services can expect a deeper level of engagement with China in the next 12 months.”
In 2009 China overtook Japan to become Australia’s largest trading partner. In 2014, bilateral trade totalled over AUD$152bn.
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