Opportunities for Victorian business owners wanting to leverage China's multi-billion dollar e-commerce market have stepped up a notch following a visit to Australia from China's Vice Foreign Affairs Minister, and seven leading Chinese e-commerce operators.
Escorted by a large business delegation, China's second most senior leader, Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Australia on 23 March for investment and trade talks aimed at strengthening the countries' trade relationship and extending the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).
During a brief in Beijing, China's Vice Foreign Affairs Minister, Zheng Zeguang said both China and Australia are experiencing strong developments in e-commerce, and opportunities are rapidly emerging for Australia to share in the wealth to be made from China's booming middle-class.
Chinese authorities have been reported as easing the tight regulations imposed on online trade in Australia with low-value products imported for personal use through e-commerce – such as vitamins and baby food products – by removing labelling and registration requirements.
"This is new momentum" said Minister Zheng, "and we are willing to expand cooperation with Australian companies in cross-border e-commerce" he added.
During Minister Li's visit, the Australian and Chinese government are expected to sign new agreements and announce the next phase of the ChAFTA deal.
Minister Li's visit to Australia will also focus on technology, innovation, joint research centres and technology exchanges between the two countries'.
Meanwhile, as part of the 2017 Victorian Invitation Program (VIP), Alibaba Group welcomed seven leading Chinese e-commerce influencers to Melbourne on an eleven-day tour aimed at promoting Australian products and lifestyle to Chinese consumers.
Chosen from Alibaba Passport (APASS) – which has over 100,000 members who spend more than US$35,000 across Alibaba's platform annually – the e-commerce influencers were joined on the tour by some of China's top influential online personalities, Anthony and Adam&Eve, and Chinese supermodel and designer, Mary Ma.
"Chinese shoppers are very interested in what celebrities and influencers are buying" said Managing Director of Alibaba Group, Maggie Zhou at a press release. "This is part of a broader desire for lifestyle changes in China, which Australia can be at the heart of" Zhou added.
Trade Victoria collaborated with Alibaba on the tour to showcase the best of Victoria's fashion industry by organising Mary Ma to be a part of the 2017 Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF). During the Event, Ma created videos for Youko – China's top online video and streaming service platform – to help build awareness of the latest Australian styles in China.
The tour follows a major coup for Victoria when Alibaba Group – the world's largest online and mobile commerce company – officially opened its Australian and New Zealand headquarters in Melbourne earlier this year, and the Victorian Government established a first-of-its kind partnership with Alibaba's Tmall platform and Australia Post in 2016.