China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) has cemented the nation's competitive advantage for its traditionally strong industries, former Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb said Thursday.
Robb told an audience hosted by the Australia-China Relations Institute that the ChAFTA gives Australian services firms advantages they have never had before.
However, "it needs a cultural change to accept that we've got to move and invest Australian money in China" and export the world class services in demand through the Asian region, he said.
Robb said that with the doors opening on services, Australia's small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), "the biggest drivers and the biggest innovators" in the country, "now have an opportunity not to be going through second or third parties ... and start a business that's got a market potential of over a billion people."
He also noted that the bearish views of China's economy is just "talking ourselves out of the most opportunistic time in our history", pointing out that growth figures can be mis-leading by looking at percentage added rather than monetary value.
The ChAFTA officially entered into force on December 20, 2015.