Tasmanian businesses are staking a claim in the global competition for opportunities and investment in China, and there has never been a better time for more Tasmanians to get ‘China ready’.
The rise of China isn’t news, but with the Australian dollar dropping from its record highs of recent years, the growing Chinese middle class now has better access to Australia and our products than ever before.
China is already Tasmania’s biggest export destination, worth $610 million and the key gateway of Hong Kong worth an extra $174 million. These figures represent 28 per cent of Tasmania’s total annual merchandise exports.
Our relationship with China goes far deeper than partnering in its modern long economic boom. In the late 1800s, the Chinese were among the pioneers of our mining and seafood industries. Tasmania also has a long-standing sister state relationship with the Fujian Province, which borders the Taiwan Strait.
Chinese investment is also well-established in Tasmania, with China Minmetals owning mines and a share of Hydro Tasmania’s north-west wind farms. With much of our mineral wealth remaining untapped and our renewable energy supply making industries like mineral processing sustainable, there are still plenty of opportunities for future investment.
Similarly, Tasmania’s tourism industry is now experiencing record visitation, fueled by a more than 60 per cent increase in Chinese tourists. Yet there is still room for the industry and its infrastructure to grow.
Savvy tourism operators know this. Tourism Tasmania has just led a delegation through markets in Asia, including China and Hong Kong. Sixteen businesses took part, up from six in the previous year.
China visitor preparation programs have been provided to tourism, hospitality and general businesses. In August, the Tasmanian Hotels Association launched a guide to looking after Chinese guests and the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania has been rolling out a program of China Ready accreditation programs. Chinese customs are naturally quite different to our own. Being prepared to cater for their needs is not just courtesy, it provides business with a competitive advantage.
With Tasmania’s well-established reputation for excellent produce, our dairy, beef, seafood and agriculture sectors have everything to gain through exposure to the Chinese market. Earlier this year, Hansens Orchards began exporting apples from the Huon Valley into China, following the previous success of Reid Fruits, exporting cherries from the Derwent Valley in the lead up to the Chinese New Year.
Tasmania has a premium brand that is far from ordinary, increasingly recognised across the growing Asian region, from which many of our business are successfully leveraging competitive advantage. More Tasmanian businesses would do well to make sure they’re not being left behind. Any business interested in developing trade or investment linkages with China should register at www.investtasmania.com.au/china_investment