CANBERRA, Mar. 12 -- Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan said on Tuesday that he believes the Chinese economic growth has stabilized and he is confident the Chinese new leadership will bring a renewed commitment to addressing China's economic challenges.
Speaking at the Australian China Business Council (ACBC)'s Canberra Networking Day, Swan recalled the pessimism on China's economy last year, saying that now all would like to agree that China's growth has stabilized "at a pretty robust pace".
"There's no doubt we had two big risks in the global economy in 2012, but China was not one of them. Rolling crises in Europe and the United States dogged the global recovery last year and they are still the biggest risks on the horizon," he said.
He said the Chinese government has still got the policy capacity to manage their economy and "they've been getting it pretty right".
Swan also pointed out that China is now 40 percent larger than it was in 2008. "So its growth rate can be 20 percent lower -- say 8 percent now versus 10 percent back then -- for China to make the same contribution to global growth."
Swan said that China will have to keep addressing its big structural challenges like the huge amount of unregulated lending in its financial system and its transition to more consumption-led growth.
"It was encouraging to hear outgoing Premier Wen (Jiabao) say just a week ago that China's continued reform and re-balancing towards domestic consumption would be critical for China's future. "
A less breakneck pace of economic growth will also enable more focus on environmental concerns, inequality, and health and safety, he added.
"While some pretty clear risks remain in China's economy, I'm confident that the leadership transition -- currently in its final stages -- will bring a renewed commitment to addressing China's economic challenges."
Swan also noted that Australia is providing active support for the internationalization of Chinese currency Renminbi (RMB). He said that Australia is expected to host the inaugural Australia- Hong Kong RMB trade and investment dialogue next month.
Swan said RMB-denominated trade settlement reached almost 3 trillion yuan RMB in 2012, up 42 percent in just one year. In addition, the latest data shows the value of RMB payments more broadly increasing by a massive 171 percent since January 2012.
"There's a significant opportunity here..." Swan said, "Tapping into this is just one of the policy pathways of the Asian Century White Paper that the government is working on."
He also said that Australian Treasury and the Reserve Bank of Australia have been working closely with the People's Bank of China to set up direct trading between the RMB and the AUD.
The Asian Century White Paper released by the Australian government last year projects that by 2025, China's output will make up a quarter of the world's GDP. And by then China's middle class will have quadrupled, which means hundreds of millions more consumers who will demand more and better goods and services.
Swan urged Australian businesses to "harness the opportunities on our doorstep", since "the deepening relationship between China and Australia will continue to be one of the defining features of Australia's economic story in the Asian century".
He announced that the government will redirect 6.5 million Australian dollars (6.63 million U.S. dollars) to improve Treasury ' s engagement with the Asian region.
With this funding, Treasury will deepen cooperation with a number of strategically important partners, including China, India, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines on fiscal and macroeconomic policy, he said.
On top of this, the new Asian Century Business Engagement grants program will provide more support for businesses to engage with Asia. From 1 July this year, these new grants will help businesses make the most of the opportunities of the Asian Century by improving understanding of and access to Asian markets.