Macau is officially known as the Macau Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. It is a former Portuguese territory that reverted to the People’s Republic of China on 20 December 1999. Under the principle of ‘one country, two systems’ adopted at the time, the city enjoys a high degree of autonomy in all areas except defence and foreign affairs, which are China’s responsibility. Macau has an area smaller than the Australian Capital Territory and a population slightly larger than that of Canberra.
Macau’s economic growth had been underpinned by the development of the gaming industry and high levels of investment in property and tourism infrastructure. The gaming industry dominates the local economy, accounting for 17 per cent of local jobs and 92 per cent of government revenue in 2011. Macau’s casinos and UNESCO World Heritage sites attract large numbers of tourists each year (more than 28 million in 2011). The visitors significantly increase the size of Macau’s consumer market, and are an important component of the local market for Australian products.
Government, business and people-to-people links
Our government-to-government relations are in excellent shape. The bilateral relationship is supported by the Australian Consulate-General and various Australian state government representative offices based in Hong Kong. Australia and Macau cooperate on a broad range of issues, including trade and investment, law enforcement, combating people smuggling and irregular migration, and promoting education and tourism.
Macau is a relatively small market. In 2011, Australian exports of goods to Macau were valued at $40 million. The Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Macau helps in promoting business networks and showcasing Australia.
An estimated 1,700 Australians are living and working in Macau. In 2011, there was an average of 9,319 Australian visitors in Macau each month. In the same year, there were 92 Macanese student enrolments in Australian educational institutions. Over 2000 Australians identified Macao as their place of birth in the 2011 census.
What makes Macau important for Australia is the relatively large scale of its gaming and hospitality industry. Australia’s largest investment in Macau is in the gaming sector.
An Australian group is engaged in casino operations in Macau. A number of Australian companies also supply products and services to Macau’s gaming industry, and there are a significant number of Australians in management positions in the gaming and hospitality sector. Australia also has a record of successful engagement in construction activity in Macau.
Aristocrat (Macau) Limited
Aristocrat (Macau) Limited is a subsidiary of Aristocrat Technology Limited, a listed company in Australia. The group has over 50 years industry experience and more than 2,000 staff worldwide.
In Macau, the company registered as a privately owned company in 2000. Aristocrat has built on its Australian market leadership and reputation to become a premium supplier of groundbreaking technologies and services to the international gaming industry.
Aristocrat’s Macau subsidiary is the no. 1 supplier to the Asia–Pacific region and has 60 per cent market share in slot machines and gaming equipment in Macau. The company also provides a variety of technical and maintenance services for casinos.
While the gaming industry is expected to continue to dominate Macau’s economy in the foreseeable future, the Macau Government is taking steps to diversify the economy by stimulating other services sectors, such as conferences, exhibitions, sport, leisure and entertainment. The liberalisation of the services sector is supported by the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement signed by Macau and mainland China in 2004. There may be commercial opportunities for Australian companies to pursue as the sector is progressively liberalised in areas such as legal services, accounting, construction, real estate, advertising, management consulting, telecommunications, insurance, banking, transport, freight forwarding, warehousing and logistics.
There are also potential opportunities for Australian companies involved in design, building and construction and related products and services to participate in large infrastructure construction projects in Macau. These projects include the Macau light rail project, the Hong Kong–Macau–Zhuhai Bridge project, and the Hengqin Island project (a large mixed educational/tourism and commercial development), which is managed by Guangdong prefecture in cooperation with the Macau Government.