Transcript: A video case study on King and Wood Mallesons (KWM)


>>Voiceover: The trade agreements concluded with Korea, Japan and China include significant new openings for Australian services in these major North Asian economies.

The agreements include new or guaranteed market access for companies that supply accounting, education, financial, legal, telecommunications and other services.

Legal firm King & Wood Mallesons is one of many Australian businesses looking to capitalise on the opportunities the powerful trifecta of agreements with Asia has created.

>>Stuart Fuller: My name is Stuart Fuller. I’m the Global Managing Partner of King & Wood Mallesons.

The firm in Australia was founded in 1832 in Perth.

The firm today is one of the world’s largest global law firms. It’s 30 offices across 16 countries, 580 partners, 2,700 lawyers all up and we really cover the full range of law: corporate, M&A, securities, real estate, litigation, tax, intellectual property, antitrust, a whole range of services.

King & Wood Mallesons in China is one of China’s oldest private law firms. It formed in May 1993 in Beijing and then over a period of time it has grown to be across 10 offices in China. We also have offices in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore in the Asian region. All of that, including Australia, is about 70 per cent of the whole firm.

>>Voiceover: China is Australia’s largest services market, with exports valued at $8.2 billion.

This figure is expected to increase substantially, with the China Agreement providing new or significantly improved access for Australian services providers.

This will not only give our services firms a competitive edge, it will lead to the creation of jobs around the country.

>>Stuart Fuller: Well, the economic engine of the world going forward is going to be in Asia and north Asia in particular. So anything that creates business opportunities for clients creates business opportunities for us.

In a business sense the firm rises and falls on the success of our clients and the Free Trade Agreement contributes to those trade and investment opportunities. For other Australian law firms, it lets them set up a presence in China with Chinese firms, which we view as good because it’s competition for us and it forces us to improve, so we think it’s a good thing.

>>Jingchuan Zhao: I have to say the Chinese community is quite excited about the achievement of ChAFTA. For example, you can see some Chinese e-commerce operators that immediately opened Australian stores online and we know that several Chinese business delegations have planned to visit Australia looking for opportunities in both trade and investment.

ChAFTA is expected to stimulate the Chinese investment in a number of strategic sectors that require capital. So if the investment between China and Australia is increased then our legal business will be increased. There will be growing opportunities for legal firms to advise Australian and Asian companies on entering the global supply chain.

>>Stuart Fuller: China views the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement as its most developed free trade agreement and it creates enormous opportunities for Australian businesses, whether it’s in the services sector, the trade sector or the investment sector. China is also negotiating a number of other trade agreements with countries, including the US. So the benefit for Australia is first mover advantage and take the opportunity whilst it’s there.

Really through the China-Australian connection of the firm and cross-border trade and investment, that creates business opportunities. So whether it’s trading opportunities, simply buying and selling goods and services or investment, M&A, creation of new business, that creates jobs in Australia. A great example is in the commercial real estate sector, acting for our Chinese clients making investments here – building new properties creates jobs in the construction sector.

>>Voiceover: Under the agreement with Japan, Australian law firms can form Legal Professional Corporations under Japanese law. Australian lawyers living in Japan can also take advantage of fast-tracked registration procedures to provide Australian and international legal services in Japan.

The Korea Agreement allows Australian law firms to set up offices, hire local lawyers and utilise Australian lawyers more easily in Korea.

>>Stuart Fuller: The Free Trade Agreement allows Australian law firms to set up businesses in Korea over a staged presence, so that does create options for us as we look at our clients and the business we do between Australia-Korea and, importantly, China-Korea. The Free Trade Agreement and the mechanism that it provides does create an opportunity for us to open business in Korea.

One of the soft parts of a free trade agreement isn’t just the hard business opportunities it creates but the people to people connections and the country to country connections. So free trade agreements which deepen the business ties actually deepen Australia’s engagement in Asia and the people to people and cultural connection, which is fundamental to success in Asia.


More information