Aust-China FTA: how the health care sector stands to benefit

04 December, 2014

Aged care could well be an unlikely winner as a result of the recent signing of the historic China-Australia FTA.

The deal will give Australian businesses unprecedented opportunity to access the Chinese economy, along with concessions to the local health care sector.

Under the FTA, China will allow Australian-owned hospitals and aged care facilities to be established in the country.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trading advice said: "This greatly expands the private health sector's wide offering of medical services through East Asia."

China's expansion plans

In 2013, China announced it intended to further develop its aged care industry, hoping to double its aged care bed count to eight million by 2020. It also planned to increase its aged care workforce from one million to 10 million in the same time frame, according to figures from Austrade.

Professor Colette Browning of Monash University said such targets provided enormous potential, and the FTA would no doubt 'increase the influence' Australia has on the Chinese aged care and health sector.

"China has sought advice from Australian experts and providers in aged care, hospital care and primary care in the past and the FTA will strengthen these relationships," Professor Browning said.

"Both the aged care and health systems in China are undergoing enormous change at present in terms of the way services are delivered and the training required to deliver these services.

"While we are well-known for exporting our minerals to China, I expect that exporting knowledge and services in the health and aged care sectors will increase over the coming years, reflecting the 70 per cent services composition of the current Australian economy.

"The FTA provides a significant opportunity for Australians to work with Chinese colleagues to have a positive impact on these sectors in China."