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People's Daily Online>>China Business

G'day China

By Cong Mu (Global Times)

08:58, April 16, 2012

A Jetstar passenger jet owned by Australian airline group Qantas takes off in Singapore. Qantas has cooperated with China Eastern Airlines to set up a lowcost airline, Jetstar Hong Kong, to serve Chinese consumers from 2013. Photo: IC

Surrounded by flashy SUVs and sedans, Jennifer Eden's coffee shop sits quietly in the northeast corner of a showroom on the first floor of Volkswagen China's office in Sanlitun, Beijing.

Eden, 37, from Sydney, Australia, opened Zest in December 2010. She hired two Chinese assistants and trained them to serve the local community, including Chinese and foreign office workers and staff from the nearby embassies, in an Australian way.

"In Australia, we don't have these big chains, like Starbucks or Costa Coffee. There are a few, but they're actually not very popular. Most people when they go and have coffee, they'd like to go to a small coffee shop," which usually offer better and more personal service, Eden said.

More services

As the Chinese economic growth model shifts toward a more consumption-driven pattern, Australia is hoping to capitalize by exporting more services to the growing consumer market.

The services sector has been the biggest growth driver and employer in the Australian economy over the last two to three decades, and the growth in services trade has outpaced the rise in goods trade, according to a white paper released by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) last year.

Half of the country's services exports are in the form of commercial presence, or setting up branches and stores in a foreign country, such as Zest, the ACCI said in the report.

"There is this huge consumer market here and we ought not to get too fixated on the view that the only thing we can sell is commodities and resources. There are other opportunities," Stephen Cartwright, CEO of Sydney-based NSW Business Chamber, a member of the ACCI, told the Global Times last month, ahead of a meeting with Chinese trade promotion officials in Beijing.

Seeing weakening signs in Chinese manufacturing, Australia-based BHP Billiton, the world's biggest miner, predicted flattening iron ore demand in China last month.

Meanwhile, China Eastern Airlines and Australian airline company Qantas Group, parent of budget airline Jetstar Group, formed a joint venture in Hong Kong on March 26, betting on a burgeoning travel market in China.

"Jetstar's vision is to make travel more affordable for millions of people across Asia, and the demographics of China with its booming middle class are a key part of that plan," Jetstar Group's CEO Bruce Buchanan said.

On a recent sunny afternoon in Beijing, Eden looked quite content sitting in a red comfy chair in her small coffee shop, which she founded with her own money and with some help from business partners in the city.

"We were very fortunate here that we broke even within the first month," Eden said. "I had a plan for the first three months. Because of the products that we had, it was popular straight away, which was good. And it was in December, which is usually a slow month. So that gave us hope," she said.

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