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Students offer valuable trade link with emerging market

IN a first for WA, government, industry and business last week met with Chinese students studying in WA with the sole purpose of developing liaisons.

The networks will capitalise on opportunities for the students, mostly completing post-graduate programs, to help forge new links with businesses throughout China’s cities and provinces.

The potential for the exchange of ideas was already apparent at this first meeting, which began formally with panel presentations from Rio Tinto, the Small Business Development Corporation, the Australia China Business Council, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs and Federal member for Pearce Judi Moylan.

Students were quick to tell the forum that the emerging growth areas for Australian and Chinese business relationships were in law, banking, finance and accounting.

Traditionally two-way trade and business opportunities have been focused in the agriculture, edu-cation, mining, petroleum and in-formation technology sectors.

Australia China Business Council WA president Desmond Williams said the initiative would lessen overseas student isolation from the Australian business community.

Dr Williams said the council also recognised student groups as having a significant potential to benefit Australia through trade and business activities, based on the combination of their training in Australia and their links into Chinese cities and regions.

Ms Moylan, chair of the Australia China Parliamentary Friendship Group, said the initiative reminded her of the Colombo plan in the 1950s, which increased Australia’s awareness and knowledge of the region, in addition to delivering economic benefits.

Hamersley Iron superintendent customer liaison and ACBC vice president Jugan Feng was asked about conflicts of interest if negotiating for an Australian company in competition with a Chinese company.

Ms Feng said networking and working with Australian companies would short-cut students’ learning about business practices.

SBDC managing director George Etrelezis regarded the students as an important link for business migration and for new trade.

He said these students, with their contacts in China, could become agents for prospective exporters after learning the business environment, laws and structures here.

Curtin Business School manager business development Cisca Spencer told the students western business experience and an

MBA would make them highly marketable throughout the competitive Chinese business sector.

Murdoch University MBA program chair John Krasnostein said Australia faced strong com-petition from Canada, the US and Britain in attracting Chinese MBA students, partly due to difficult immigration hurdles.

Ms Moylan said the Federal Government had started to relax these immigration laws last year, to better accommodate students following China’s grant of approved destination status to Australia, and would continue to streamline entry processes.

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