The uncertain future of international trade and globalisation will be one of the hot topics discussed at the Boao Forum for Asia's annual conference in Melbourne this December.

Video: Boao Forum for Asia Melbourne Conference

With US president-elect Donald Trump vowing to exit the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Britain's vote for Brexit and other recent developments, some observers fear the strides made towards global economic integration are under threat. Others have suggested China may step up to fill the leadership role Western nations appear to be relinquishing.

The upcoming Melbourne conference of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) is thus very timely, as it will address all these issues and more. "The Future of Globalisation" is the theme that will bring together 300 high-level leaders in government, business and academia from China, Australia and the rest of Asia from 7-9 December 2016.

This event will be of particular interest to policymakers, opinion leaders and regulators in finance and trade, investors in finance, infrastructure and sustainability programs, and consultancies, investment banks and law firms.

Conference agenda

The BFA, based in Hainan, China, is dedicated to promoting Asian development through the integration of regional economies, and through economic exchange between Asia and other parts of the world. Its annual conference is usually held in China, and Victoria is proud to host the event for the first time.

Speakers and panelists at this year's forum include luminaries such as Zeng Peiyan, former Vice Premier of China and current vice-chairman of BFA; Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews; Jenny Shipley, chair of China Construction Bank New Zealand and former prime minister of New Zealand; Ding Xuedong, chairman and CEO of China Investment Corporation; Andrew Forrest, chairman of Fortescue Metals Group; Maggie Zhou, MD of Alibaba Australasia; Ross Garnaut, professor of economics at Australian National University, and many more.

The key topics for this year's conference are:

- Globalisation - Past, present and future

- eCommerce, new growth driver for global trade

- The future of free trade agreements

- Commodities: the way ahead

- Global FDI – what is new?

Victoria's open economy

The conference topics are all issues very close to Victoria's heart, as the state has long relied on open trading and investment for its economic success. There is currently reason to question whether this openness will continue, and to ponder the ramifications of a slowing in global trade and investment integration.

In particular, Victoria enjoys a very close relationship with China. There are more than 250,000 people of Chinese ancestry in Victoria. China is Victoria's top trading partner, with two-way trade valued at A$22.7 billion in 2015-16, and China is the state's most important export market for goods valued at A$4.8 billion in 2015/16, an increase of 11 per cent from the previous year.

To ensure this key relationship continues to thrive, Victoria this year released a new China strategy called Partnerships in Prosperity, aimed at strengthening cultural and business links between the two economies.

China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA)

Implementation of ChAFTA began in December 2015, and it promises to deliver great benefits to Victorian service providers in sectors like education, health and aged care, tourism and financial services. However the agreement, which will see tariffs on dairy, beef, wine and many  other products phased out entirely, is particularly significant for Victoria's agricultural sector. For example, Victoria accounts for 85 per cent of Australia's dairy exports.

Victoria proud to host BFA conference

The state is particularly pleased to host this year's BFA conference, as it will be an opportunity to foster dialogue between Chinese and Australian CEOs and government officials, promote trade and investment facilitation, and enhance trade co-operation between Australia and the rest of Asia.

It is an unmissable opportunity to showcase the attractiveness of Victoria as a business partner and investment destination determined to remain open for business with China, Asia and the rest of the world.

The Boao Forum for Asia will take place in Melbourne from 7-9 December.  For further information, visit the Boao Forum for Asia Melbourne Conference website.