Published in the Australia China Business Council's NSW Branch Newsletter on 9.10.13
Six months ago Craig Emerson was representing Australia in Paris, chairing an OECD meeting on the Asian Century and hectoring key member countries of the World Trade Organization on the necessity of opening up their markets in the long-running global trade talks.
Now the former Australian Trade Minister and Minister for Tertiary Education is working with business clients as Managing Director of Craig Emerson Economics Pty Ltd, one of the newest members of the Australia China Business Council.
If a week is a long time in politics, six months is an eternity.
As Trade Minister, Dr Emerson pioneered the ‘new pathways’ approach of breaking the global trade talks into more manageable components and bringing them to conclusion as they are ready – instead of waiting for what he describes as ‘a grand bargain to descend from the sky.’
Leaders of APEC, the G20 and the East Asia Summit endorsed Australia’s imaginative ‘new pathways’ approach and it is being pursued in Geneva for adoption by a meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December.
Dr Emerson also set up with the United States a Geneva negotiating group of more than 40 countries for an agreement on trade in services. China is now sending strong signals that it wants to join the negotiations, an indication that it is contemplating opening up its huge services market.
Dr Emerson was the Minister responsible for overseeing the Gillard Government’s White Paper on Australia in the Asian Century, drawing on his policy experience dating back to his PhD studied under Professor Ross Garnaut and as Economic Adviser to Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
During an informal dinner conversation in Beijing in 2011 with his then Chinese counterpart, Commerce Minister Chen Deming, Dr Emerson raised the possibility of cooperation between Australia and China in meeting China’s and the world’s food security needs. One thing led to another and the two Governments released a joint agricultural study in December 2012, upon whose recommendations the Australia China Business Council is acting.
In April 2013, Dr Emerson joined Prime Minister Gillard on her historic visit to China where the two Governments established a landmark Australia-China strategic partnership agreement.
For most of his professional life Dr Emerson has been closely involved in strengthening the Australia-China relationship.
Now, through Craig Emerson Economics, he’s working in the business community and is converting opportunity into commercial benefits for his clients.