Interview: Businessman says Xi's pledge on openness boosts confidence in Australia Release date:2018-04-16

ADELAIDE, Australia, April 13 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech at the just-concluded Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) was very positive news, said Mark Allison with the Australian agriculture company Elders.

In a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua, Allison, chief executive officer of Elders, said Xi's speech was consistent with many of China's forward-thinking views concerning world affairs over the years.

In a keynote speech delivered Tuesday at the opening ceremony of the BFA annual conference in south China's Hainan Province, Xi pledged to further open up China's economy, lower tariffs and promote global prosperity.

Allison said he is looking forward to learning specific measures to carry out Xi's announcement. "But the general context of it -- saying that China welcomes more imports and will do that through a number of means including tariff reductions -- from Australian viewpoint, is very, very positive and we welcome that."

Acknowledging that Australia exports a lot of agricultural products, the businessman said "China is our major trading partner. So we are very positive."

Citing the protection of intellectual property right as one of the concerns of Australian exporters to China, Allison said the business community in Australia welcomes China's resolve to redouble its effort in that domain.

The 179-year-old Elders is one of the largest agriculture companies in Australia, with 220 branches and over 2,000 staffers across the country. Its business with China dates back to 14 years ago and focuses on providing high-end beef and lamb to hotels and restaurants in big cities.

"It's a relatively small business. Our ambition is to make a bigger business. The key point for us is to actually provide the products that the Chinese public want in those hotels and restaurants," Allison said, adding that his company wishes to expand its business in China, which he said was still small for the time being.

According to Allison, Elders had "a broad portfolio of products" ranging from seafood and honey to wine.

"The announcement by President Xi on Tuesday may encourage us to broaden the business," said Allison, who envisaged ample opportunities for the company in the Chinese market.

With regards to the China International Import Expo to be held in China's Shanghai in November, which Xi said will be an annual event from this year on and a major policy initiative to open up China's market, Allison is well aware of the event, hailing it as a "very powerful symbolism."

"It's a great forum, a great platform. It opens the eyes of many other industries and companies between Australia and China. I do like the two-way nature of it," he said.

Commenting on the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, Allison said its vision and commitment, as well as China's resilience to deliver the promises related to the initiative are outstanding.

"From an industry perspective, we think it's a very positive initiative that we would like to be inside of it rather than outside of it," he said.

According to Allison, not only will the Belt and Road Initiative open up a lot of trade opportunities, it will also motivate innovation in what he referred to as "input and assistant" works within the grand framework.

"You don't fully understand the value if you stand on the outside," he said.