Legal stalwarts John Denton and Robert Milliner have returned from the second Australia-China Joint CEO Roundtable meeting in Beijing along with 12 other Australian business leaders.
While best known as the heads of Corrs Chambers Westgarth and Mallesons Stephens Jaques, the men are also members of the Commonwealth Business Council and Business Council of Australia respectively. “We (the Australian business community) are committed to growing in China and across Asia,” said Milliner. “We are therefore interested to hear from the Chinese participants at the roundtable about what they think of Australia and how we can better interact with Chinese businesses.”
According to Milliner, there is an incredible appetite and desire from the Chinese to invest into Australia across a range of industries and to realise the full benefit of those investments as a result of adequate and suitable infrastructure; fast and timely approvals and a skilled labour force. “I think undoubtedly, every time we speak to a group of senior business leaders from any country we get a better understanding of what the issues are,” said Milliner.
From the Australian side, Milliner said there is a desire to have a fully comprehensive free trade agreement between Australia and China. “We see that as being very important,” said Milliner. The Australian business league would also like to see greater transparency across the Chinese market, and the ability to settle transactions in the local currency, the RMB or Yuan.
While some media outlets have criticised the selection of Australian representatives at the roundtable, referring the panel as a “sales team”, Milliner said it was important for members of the legal profession to be involved in these roundtables as representatives of both the legal profession and also the wider business sector. “The legal industry plays an important role in assisting foreign investors and new entrants to the market in understanding the market regulations. We assist in the investment development process,” he said. “Australia is a very stable economy, and relatively risk free for inbound investor; the level of compliance and regulations across the economy is quite sophisticated. It’s quite different to the Chinese market in that respect, as the Chinese market is not regulated in the same way.” Milliner added, that like other sectors it was in the legal industry’s interest to assist in the overall growth of the Australian economy.
Other representatives’ at the roundtable included Graham Bradley president of the Business Council of Australia, chairman of HSBC Bank Australia and Stockland Corporation; Marius Kloppers chief executive officer, BHP Billiton; Michael Smith chief executive officer, ANZ and Sam Walsh executive director, Rio Tinto chief executive – Iron Ore and Australia. The roundtable was jointly organised by the Business Council of Australia and the China Chamber of Commerce in Australia.
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