This is the second year that we - at Australia Post and StarTrack - have been a Principal Sponsor of this event. Our decision to sponsor Australia-China Business Week really is a reflection of our growing commercial partnerships in China.

Last November, I had the privilege of being in Canberra on the day that President Xi Jinping addressed our Federal Parliament. In terms of landmark days for the Australian-Chinese relationship, I don't think there's another one that comes even close.

Of course, that day - 17 November, 2014 - will also be etched in history as the day that we concluded the decade-long negotiations on the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Or "ChAFTA", as it has come to be known. I went to Canberra on 17 November last year to participate in a signing ceremony with our business partners, China Union Pay. The signing of our MoU was one of about 20 different agreements that the political leaders of our two nations witnessed on that day.

So, Parliament House was awash not only with the political leadership of both nations but also the business leaders of our nations. That day in our Federal Parliament really symbolised to me the pivot that is happening in the Australian economy - and the global economy.

If the past century was all about the world learning how to serve the industrialised West, then this century is going to be all about the world learning the customs, practices and languages required to serve the Asian region - and particularlyChina.

I'd like to congratulate our Trade Minister Andrew Robb on the completion of that Free Trade Agreement.

Jennifer Westacott, of the Business Council, went even further. She called the Agreement "a transformative moment for the Australian economy." Undoubtedly the elimination of tariffs is going to provide a much-needed boost for Australian exports.

By the time the Agreement is fully implemented 95% of the goods we export to China will be tariff-free. The existing Chinese tariff system is product-specific but the tariffs mostly range from 10 to 25%. The removal of this impost will instantly improve the competitiveness of our products and open up new markets in China - especially for the Agricultural sector.

So, our economies will inevitably become more integrated as ChAFTA boosts trade and investment between our two nations. But, we also should not overlook the value that ChAFTA will create through fostering closer people-to-people links.

My hope - and expectation - is that ChAFTA will contribute greatly to the growing sense of kinship and warmth between our people.

That should naturally occur over the coming decade, because this agreement will create more opportunities for tourism and educational exchange. As that happens, the already close inter-personal relations between our people will become deeper and more trusting. That growing warmth between our people should create a virtuous circle.

The completion of ChAFTA as well as the FTAs with Japan and South Korea have occurred at a very opportune time for our economy. Together, these agreements give Australia the "leg-up" that we need to get more fully engaged with our region - and benefit from the Asian Century.

As the investment phase of the mining boom subsides, it's well understood that Australia has to diversify and transition to new growth industries.

Last year, McKinsey wrote a fascinating paper for the Business Council of Australia. It was titled "Building Australia's Comparative Advantages". It argued that the key to Australia's future prosperity is about being globally competitive in those industries where we have natural advantages. And it made the point that the onlyway we will maintain the rising living standards that Australians have enjoyed over the past 25 years is by tapping into global growth.

In the Asian Century our growth opportunities are going to be global; not domestic. And the Chinese market is clearly the largest and most immediate of those opportunities. I'm sure you'll hear many mind-blowing China-related statistics at this conference. The sheer magnitude of the Chinese economic miracle throws up some staggering figures.

In his White Paper on Australia in the Asian Century Ken Henry predicted that by 2025, half of the world's economic activity will take place in Asia. That's just one decade from now. And one-quarter of the world's economic activity will take place in just one nation - China, of course!

In my lifetime, China has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. But that's nothingcompared to the bulging growth in China's middle-class that will occur over the coming 10 to 15 years. On some estimates, China's middle class is already larger than the population of the USA. But, by 2030, around one billion Chinese are expected to be middle class - or about 70% of China's population.

As the Chinese middle class swells, there has been much made of Australia's opportunity to transition from the "mining boom" to the "dining boom". This is not to underestimate that the demand for our resources - especially iron ore and coal - will continue unabated in China. But the rising Chinese middle-class will need more than just resource and energy security.

They will wantto eat better quality food. And - longer-term - they will need food security. So, undoubtedly, agriculture and food manufacturing - as well as the "cold chain" that supports the international trade in fresh food - have to be areas of focus for our economy.

While Agriculture will obviously be a crucial pillar of our future trade relationship there will be demand for all sorts of Australian services and expertise as China grows:

  • Education and tourism
  • Financial services and legal services
  • Construction and engineering
  • Telecommunications and transaction processing.
  • Health services and aged care.

All of these sectors have been given either broader - or new - access to the Chinese market, through ChAFTA.

In its assessment of Australia's competitive advantages, the BCA warned that, as a nation, we will have to change our approach if we're going to realise the opportunities that exist in the global marketplace. For Government, it recommended implementing strategies that lift our competitiveness in specific sectors and policies that will encourage innovation.

For business, innovation is the key. That requires investment, but it also means that our business community needs to be more entrepreneurial and prepared to take risks. While these are big challenges, Australia has proven repeatedly - throughout our history - that we are capable of seizing our opportunities on the global stage.

If that's my view of the state of the macro-economic relationship, I'd now like to give you a quick overview of how that relationship plays out at a micro level in our business - at Australia Post.

Up until about 2005, our relations with China were much the same as with any other national postal organisation.  We have treaty arrangements with all of the domestic postal services - such as China Post - that govern the carriage of mail across international borders. So, it was very much a transactional relationship that we had with China Post, rather than a commercial partnership.

But that all changed in 2005 when we had this vision of offering logistics support for the growing number of Australian companies manufacturing in China. We reached out to China Post to establish a China-based J-V specialising in third-party logistics and supply chain services.

We launched this joint venture, called Sai Cheng Logistics, in the middle of 2005 with just one Hub - based in Shanghai. It's a partnership that has developed slowly, but is now starting to kick goals. After 5 years of operation, we earned a profit for the first time in 2010. The average growth rate since then has been about 30%, per annum.

Today, we have warehouses in 6 Chinese cities: Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Xiamen, Zhengzhou and Ningbo. And we also have offices in Beijing and Guangzhou.

It took us some time to gain the expertise in China to make the relationship work. But, now, we have a solid working rhythm with our Chinese partners. So we have a toehold in the Chinese logistics market. And, of course, there is massive potential there!

I'm proud of the innovative approach our team has taken - over the past couple of years - to developing other new services for the burgeoning Chinese consumer market.  Our approach has involved building partnerships with large Chinese companies that we can represent, here in Australia.

One of those partners is Alibaba, which operates Tmall - the biggest online retail site in China. There are 180 million Chinese consumers shopping on Tmall. So, Tmall is already massive - but it's still in its infancy. We've entered into a deal with Alibaba that means we have our own Australian branded storefront on the Tmall global marketplace. You can see it yourself at: auspost.tmall.hk

So, it enables us to support small and medium-sized Aussie businesses to sell their products directly to China's growing middle-class. We offer our Aussie merchants a one-stop shop service. We work with a Mandarin speaking web agency to get their product descriptions translated - and up on the site. As orders come through they're translated back into English. The products are then picked, packed and sent to the Chinese consumer using our international postage products. And delivery is handled by our other partner - China Post, of course. Again it's hard to overstate the sizeof the opportunity!

We are also now selling AliPay vouchers in our Post Offices. This payment service enables consumers - mostly Chinese nationals living in Australia - to purchase RMB credits, so they can shop securely on the Tmall or Taobao websites.

Our other notable Chinese business partnership is with UnionPay.

UnionPay is the world's largest card issuer with more than four billion cards on issue. We currently offer two services in partnership with Union Pay.

  • The first is our Load&Go UnionPay Prepaid Travel Card.

This new Prepaid Travel Card makes it easy for Aussies to securely access their funds - while they're travelling in China.

Anyone who has been to China will know that Union Pay is the most widely accepted card across the nation. Our customers can pre-load this card with Aussie Dollars or Chinese Yuan - before travelling. And they can also top-up - or re-load - the card while they're away.

  • The other thing we have done in partnership with Union Pay is enable the acceptance of their cards at our Post Offices. So, for instance, a Chinese student at the University of Adelaide, or the University of NSW can pay their fees at one of our Post Offices using their Union Pay card.

Our partnership with UnionPay - and the services we offer through that partnership - really reflects the growing familiarity of our nations and our people. There's an emerging market in these services because of the growing number of people travelling between our two nations for family, tourism or educational purposes. Beyond being our largest trading partner, China is also Australia's largest source of immigrants, overseas students and international tourists.

Today, there are almost a million people living in Australia with Chinese ancestry. We need to keep investing in deepening both our commercial and people links with China. And we have to do more to appreciate Chinese culture and customs.

So, my simple advice for Australians who are looking to trade with China is to invest time in getting to really know the people you're dealing with. Try to add a few days to your itinerary whenever you visit. Take the time to learn about their family and to understand, and appreciate, the Chinese culture.

Once you've established that genuine connection, you will often find that a new world of opportunity opens up to you. Not only will it be enriching for you, personally. Ultimately, it will be greatly beneficial for your business, too.

Thank you.