What an amazing event the APEC meeting is for Australia to host – a meeting of world leaders including US President George Bush, China’s President Hu Jintao and Russian President Vladimir Putin. As a child of the Cold War who saw immutable communism as the long-trerm enemy I was also taught at school that developing countries would never develop because they were trapped in a ‘vicious cycle of poverty’. How my perceptions have had to change!
Hu Jintao has made a reasonably extended stay in Australia and -interestingly - started his visit in Perth where he met the executives of BHP-Billiton and Rio Tinto and sought to pressure the WA government to accept Chinese rather than Japanese proposals to develop resource-related infrastructure proposals in the State. China also signed a $7.2 billion gas purchase deal with Gorgon on the coat-tails of the Hu Jintao visit. Putin’s visit is historic as Paul Keating points out in a thoughtful piece in The Australian today – it is the first ever visit by a Russian leader. Russia is a rapidly growing economy which has growing trade and investment with Australia and is also clamouring to buy into our resource stocks.
Commentators will predictably decry failures to make substantive progress on US agricultural subsidies and climate change but I cannot believe this meeting is not of enormous importance for Australia.
And today in the press it was announced that growth in the June quarter was 4.3% annual as Australia goes into its 16th year of strong growth on the back of strong growth in these developing countries and despite fears of a faltering US economy. The non-farm economy grew at 5.2% which is the highest growth since 1994. Total employee compensation grew 9% for the year and wages grew 5.5%. It is a stunning economic achievement that not purely coincidentally occurs with this most important international meeting.