Nassim Khadem Reporter

Nassim covers the accounting and tax rounds for BRW, as well as general business news. She previously worked for The Age newspaper covering general news, state politics and economics.

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Turnbull says China needs to open up

Published 12 July 2012 12:22, Updated 18 July 2012 05:49

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Turnbull says China needs to open up

Two-way street: China needs to be more open to foreign investment, says Malcolm Turnbull Photo: Louie Douvis

China can’t expect to keep taking bigger stakes in Australian companies without reciprocating the privilege, opposition communications spokesman
Malcolm Turnbull says.

Speaking at the Economist Conference’s Bellwether Series in Sydney, he said in his past business life he established a zinc mine in China.

Explaining why he opposed state-owned Chinalco increasing its share in mining giant Rio Tinto three years ago, he says China should privatise its state-owned companies if it wants to increase its stake in foreign companies.

“One of the things that China has to come to terms with is ... that we have to come to a level of reciprocity,” he says. “China is a very large mining province. Surely it is absurd for Chinese state-owned companies to be miffed when they are not allowed to invest in Australian natural resource assets, [given that] if BHP or Rio want to buy a Chinese deposit or Chinese mining company, that wouldn’t [be allowed to] happen.”

He says one of the advantages Australian companies can offer the Chinese is in mining technology.

“We are very good at mining,” he says. “A lot of people talk mining down. They say it’s not like software development or biotech. But there is as much technology in the natural resources business today as there is in anything else.”

Turnbull says commentators suggest China could become self-sufficient in gas and turn into a gas exporter by 2020.

“That’s all technology driven – and if China wants its complaints about restrictions on investment elsewhere being viewed favourably, [it needs] to be more open to investment in those sectors itself.”

Turnbull had opposed Chinalco’s $US19.5 billion bid to increase its stake in Rio Tinto from 11 per cent to 18 per cent that was under consideration by the then Rudd government. The deal was later abandoned.

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