2016: Building on Success
2015 was a breakthrough year for trade, both for Australia and the world.
Locally, the China-Australia FTA exceeded all expectations, and entered into force on 20 December. The day prior, the big surprise was a successful progression of the long-stalled Doha Round. Alongside these, we have an agreed text for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
From an Australian perspective, the potential to export services is our primary opportunity. While our core economic driver of Chinese construction demand will slow our of raw materials, and the continuing willingness of OPEC to sell oil at a fraction of production price is hampering gas investment, there is still a massive regional appetite for Australian-quality services.
Healthcare is a leading example. The liberalisation of private investment into Chinese healthcare, foreshadowed in 2013’s Third Plenum has been supported by specific tax incentives for health and biomedical investment, and is now accompanied by specific provisions allowing Australian investment under the ChAFTA.
Similarly, recognition of excess demand for aged care means governments from the Central to Municipal level are offering innovative land and tax opportunities for new services.
The keys to China, and comparable markets, are integration and quality. In social services, there is commonly an assumption that Western providers are more reliable than local offerings. This is illustrated by commodity examples such as milk powder.
Chinese and other offshore consumers want to know that Australian health or aged care will be an Australian-designed and owned product, with visible Australian service providers. This means long-term staff, rather than just exporting advice.
Over 2016 and coming years, Australia has an ambitious program of further trade negotiations, from the Pacific to the EU. The Turnbull Government recognises that services are a central plank of our future exports, and our job is to identify the niches Australia can most profitably fill.
 See Winnie Yip & William C. Hsiao, ”What Drove the Cycles of Chinese Health System Reforms”, in Health Systems & Reform, 1(1):52-61, 2015