Political tensions with China unsettle the Australian economy

The Australian economy not only has to find a way out of the Corona crisis, but also tackle problems with China at the same time.

China is Australia’s most important trading partner. The resource-rich country exported more than a third of its exports to China last year. Chinese companies have invested in Australian mining, agriculture and real estate. Australian universities are relying on the high tuition fees of the 160,000 Chinese students currently stuck in China as Australia has closed its borders because of the pandemic. However, it is not only the Corona restrictions that threaten the financial foundations of universities, but also the rapidly deteriorating political relations between Australia and China. The Chinese government has warned against travel to Australia – because of “racist attacks against Chinese and Asians.” This has also affected tourism. Until the outbreak of the pandemic, over 1 million Chinese had traveled to Australia each year. Australian tourism organizations had hoped that tourists from China would help to revive their industry, which had been hit by the pandemic.

Political relations between Australia and China hit their first low point in 2018 when the government barred Chinese telecom equipment supplier Huawei from building Australia’s 5G mobile network over security concerns. New laws have led to stricter scrutiny of Chinese investment projects in Australia and measures against Chinese influence on Australian companies, political parties and universities. Now Australia is calling for a thorough investigation into the origin and spread of the coronavirus in China. In addition, Canberra is not holding back with criticism of the new restrictive security laws in Hong Kong.

At the same time, the Australians are upgrading militarily. In the midst of the Covid 19 recession, the country is increasing its defense spending. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned of a more insecure and dangerous post-Corona world, similar to the situation in the 1930s before the outbreak of World War II. Tensions between China and the U.S. in the South China Sea could lead to strategic blunders and conflict. Just last week, the Chinese navy had an “encounter” with five Australian warships on their way to maneuvers with the American fleet in the disputed sea region.

Still, Australian National University security and defense expert John Blaxland believes a military confrontation is unlikely: “Chinese tactics are aimed at an opponent’s surrender without military confrontation, through ever-increasing political and economic pressure and clear demonstrations of power.” Australia must counter this and offer a credible deterrent, he said. The example could also encourage other countries in the region not to be intimidated by China, he said. Trust in the reliability of the great U.S. ally has fallen considerably with Donald Trump’s unpredictable foreign policy, he said. Australia is now trying to get closer to neighbors such as Indonesia and countries like South Korea and Japan.

But at the same time, the Australians continue to work economically with their most important trading partner. The country wants to benefit from the Chinese recovery after the Corona crisis. Economic goods are transported in high volumes. Companies like Pallets Sydney profit from this. It’s not easy, says defense and international economics expert Stephan Fruehling of the Coral Bell School of Asia-Pacific Affairs. “Direct investment by Chinese companies in particular is a problem. Many large companies have ties to the Chinese army. Chinese companies cannot be separated from the state.” If the Australian government or the media make critical comments about Chinese policy, Beijing likes to react with economic punishments: ships with raw material deliveries suddenly have to wait twice as long for clearance in Chinese ports; without warning, tariffs are imposed on agricultural products or beef imports are restricted.

Nevertheless, economic cooperation in some areas that are important to China is still going surprisingly well: The large Australian mining companies, for example, were allowed to continue operating during the lockdown. Corona outbreaks were prevented in remote mines in Western Australia and Queensland. Exports continued – albeit at lower volumes in some cases. The major commodity groups BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals were even able to increase their iron ore deliveries to China in May 2020 – at a high price level of more than US$100 per ton.

China needs the ore for economic reconstruction after Covid-19, and the world’s second-largest economy is dependent on Australia for this. Australia’s only major competitor, iron ore exporter Brazil, has had to cut its production significantly because of uncontrolled corona eruptions. In this case, China is apparently acting pragmatically despite its harsh tone toward Australia. Australians hope that this pragmatism will prevail in other areas of economic relations between the two countries.

Australia’s small economic miracle

The Australian economy continued to grow significantly in the fourth quarter of last year. Meanwhile, the record low interest rate is expected to last for at least another three years.

Australia’s economy is recovering at a fast pace. Chancellor of the Exchequer Josh Frydenberg said the Fifth Continent “is leading the world” with regard to its economic and health policies. Frydenberg presented figures for the fourth quarter of last year Wednesday morning: Australia’s economic output fell just 1.1 percent short of the same period last year, which was not yet marked by the Corona pandemic. Australia, meanwhile, primarily measures growth from quarter to quarter.

In the third quarter of 2020, the world’s No. 13 major economy was up 3.4 percent, and now it’s up another 3.1 percent. “This is the first time in history that Australia has recorded two consecutive quarters of economic growth of more than 3 percent each,” Frydenberg said. “The Australian economy has recovered 85 percent from its Corona-induced slump, six months earlier and twice as fast as we expected in October 2020 when we presented the budget.” For the full year 2020, Australia contracted by 2.4 percent.

Record low interest rates continue to drive property and equity prices

Last week, ratings agency Fitch had projected a 2.8 percent drop, but had continued to give Australia its top “AAA” rating – though the average for “AAA countries” shrank by 3.8 percent. But the performance of even the commodities industry, so important to the country and the world, fell in 2020 for the first time since 2003: after growing 5.7 percent in 2019, it lost 0.9 percent in the last Corona year, especially because of falling coal sales. Currently, the industry is driven by record prices for ore or copper. The bottom line, however, is that the mineral-rich country once again remains the best-developing economy among the leading economies. The government in Canberra has now cut direct Corona economic aid by half. Analysts now expect a growth rate of around 4.5 percent this year.

Support is coming from the central bank. Its record low interest rate of 0.1 percent will remain in place “until at least 2024,” its governor Philip Lowe just assured. The economy is booming. Loans are being taken out, people are being hired, and even truck hires from Sydney are back in high demand. The bank will do everything it can to keep interest rates down. The goal is to keep the inflation rate “sustainably” in the corridor between 2 and 3 percent. Even a short-term jump above the 2 percent hurdle will therefore not be enough to trigger a rise in interest rates, he said. “To achieve this, wage growth will have to be significantly higher than at present,” the central bank said. At the same time, it hinted at adding another 100 billion Australian dollars to the bond buyback program, which currently stands at 200 billion Australian dollars (129.30 billion euros).

However, this record low interest rate is also continuing to drive up property and share prices in Australia: Australians subscribed to a record 29 billion Australian dollars worth of new loans in January, an astonishing 40 percent more than in January last year. House prices rose another 2.1 percent, the fastest in 17 years. Analysts, however, expect house prices to rise again this year in a corridor between 9 and 13 percent.

Wooden skyscraper in Sydney: planted tower with filigree lightness

The plans for a hybrid timber building could set a new urban accent at the central station in downtown Sydney. On the floors, exterior and interior spaces merge into one another. The tower is to be financed by the software company Atlassian.

The high-rise is to be built using the Mass Timber Construction (MTC) method, using solid wood and an exoskeleton of steel as the supporting structure. The hybrid construction method expands the design possibilities in architecture while respecting ecological criteria. BVN sees MTC as “one of the most promising technologies “and as a contribution by the construction industry to solving the global climate crisis.

Trimmed for energy efficiency

Atlassian cites the use of renewable energy and net-zero emissions as a goal in terms of a voluntary commitment. SHoP Architects and Australian design studio BVN therefore had to consistently adopt an energy-efficient approach. Compared to a conventional new building of a similar size, the hybrid building design should be able to avoid around 50 percent of carbon emissions and halve energy consumption.

Solar panels on the façade should even be able to meet 100 percent of Atlassian’s electricity needs. For construction in Sydney’s temperate climate, the plans for the façade design are therefore optimized in a combination of self-shading and power generation.

The existing Youth Hostel (YHA) at the site will be renovated and integrated into the lower levels of the new building, and a historic parcel shed will also be included in the development.

Highest building of its kind in the world

The 180-meter-high building with 40 floors, which will serve as the software group’s new headquarters, will provide space for a total of 4,000 employees. If approval is granted, construction could begin next year, with completion planned for 2025. Numerous companies are already ready to work as service providers and scaffolding hire.

Buildings largely made of solid wood are also being constructed in Tokyo and in Vancouver, where Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban is using a hybrid construction method to realize a building complex with condominiums.

Why SEO is so important?

A guide for all companies.

SEO summarizes all activities that contribute to a website ranking high in Google search results. This can result from OnPage or OffPage SEO optimizations. A good SEO strategy helps catapult a website to the top of search engine results. In addition, it can also help boost a company’s visibility and brand. No wonder many companies are already successfully using SEO to their advantage.

The fact is: websites without top rankings on Google are rarely or never clicked on. This means losing potential customers who are already actively searching for a product or service.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, is a sub-area of online marketing aimed at improving visibility in search engines. The abbreviation SEO comes from the English term Search Engine Optimization and is today the global term for the optimization of websites for search engines. SEO is divided into two sub-disciplines – OnPage and OffPage optimization.

SEO in the past vs. SEO today

Sophisticated algorithms enable today’s search engines to answer search queries and deliver mostly very accurate results, providing the searcher with valuable information amidst a vast source of information. The display of search results, also called SERPs, is based on certain factors. Ever since the first search engines entered the market, the overriding task in the field of SEO has been to evaluate these ranking factors and to positively influence the rankings of a website through the use of targeted optimization.

The SEO beginnings or also “How SEO does not work today”.

After search engines established themselves on the web, the first webmasters started trying to influence search results. The resulting SEO community quickly discovered that relatively simple measures could be used to manipulate a website’s rankings. The possibilities were straightforward and thus led to a profitable model. Thus, through practices such as keyword stuffing, link spamming, etc., website operators could achieve a good ranking in the search results with little effort. Over time, search engines like Google realized that this was not in the user’s best interest and started developing algorithm updates. These optimized the quality of search results more and more in recent years and low-quality websites and optimization measures lost value or, in the worst case, were penalized. Due to the constant development of ranking factors and thus the improvement of search results, Google developed into THE search engine and outdated SEO techniques today either no longer have any relevance or even have a negative effect. It is best to look for a digital marketing agency from sydney for more questions.

SEO in the future – Where is the journey of search engine optimization going?

A lot has changed over the last decade of SEO. Some disciplines still work “similarly”, other measures have been buried. Overall, it can be said that SEO has become more comprehensive because it is no longer enough to look at the subject from a single angle. Rather, SEO today is a complex interaction of various factors, which must be optimally coordinated with each other. Google’s algorithm is no longer satisfied with fixed ranking factors, but today develops independently by means of A.I. and thus improves the search results every day. This process, which can be summarized with the term “Machine Learning”, has the consequence for SEO that everything is less transparent and not even a Google employee could tell what has changed during a Google update. In addition, technical SEO is becoming more and more important and side shows such as usability and user-focused content are also coming to the fore. This leads us in the field of SEO more and more to the question: What does the web user actually want?

Advantages of SEO? What are the benefits of search engine optimization?

SEO is a serious traffic channel in online marketing. Today, the use of SEO can even contribute decisively to how successful a company is. Thus, it is no longer a matter of debate whether SEO is worthwhile at all. The following key points briefly summarize the advantages of SEO.

SEO is the future, because users search online
While yellow pages are gathering dust in the corner, even the older generations are using the Internet as a source of information – a rethink has long since taken place: On average, nine out of ten people use Google. Each of them is looking for a solution to their own personal “problem”. The searcher then finds the ideal solution in a product or a service. Those who appear directly at the top of the search results with suitable SEO measures are therefore investing in the future.

SEO offers users a direct solution
Compared to other acquisition measures, search engine optimization has a clear advantage: The potential new customer does not have to be convinced that he needs the offered products or services – because he already knows it, otherwise he would not search for it. Thus, SEO acts according to the pull principle.

SEO is cost-efficient
What many entrepreneurs cite when deciding against SEO is, last but not least, the cost factor. It is obvious that search engine optimization is not exactly cheap. But the investments are worth it. Thus, a top position for a company can mean significant growth, because: In Google’s search results, the positions on page 1 are clicked on – so if your own website appears here with desired added value, you win.

SEO is measurable
Working with SEO professionals means that all implemented measures and successes are logged, analyzed and evaluated. In this way, measurable key figures can be created very quickly, on the basis of which the SEO successes can be evaluated.

SEO strengthens the image and brings new customers
SEO is particularly interesting because of one very special aspect: it increases visibility, and not only at the moment of the search query. Due to the long-term orientation of SEO, searchers come into contact with the company, the brand and the product name more and more often. It is this form of brand awareness that is a critical success factor.

The top 5 reasons for SEO
The above advantages already strongly suggest the benefit of SEO. Nevertheless, we have summarized here again the top 5 reasons for SEO.

  • More traffic on the website
  • Sustainable visibility on Google
  • Optimized user experience
  • More sales and customers
  • Better image and authenticity

Conclusion – Why SEO is so important for companies?

Search engine optimization is no longer an insider tip and neither is the fact that a usability-optimized website is important. Nevertheless, one notices again and again that many websites of companies do not correspond to this scheme and SEO is still considered unimportant. On the one hand, this is very shocking, but on the other hand, it still offers many companies a chance to jump on. For this, however, the management must have understood that SEO as a component of online marketing belongs to the holistic marketing strategy and thus leads to sustainable success.

Search behavior and also search engines are constantly changing. This fact is the reason why a continuous and sustainable search engine optimization is important. These constant changes also require the appropriate know-how, as well as the subsequent adaptation of trends and measures. Every company that does not deal with this topic will not be successful in the long run.

Also competitors operate SEO! At least there will be no market where at least one competitor is not actively doing search engine optimization. Companies that do not practice SEO will therefore not only lose website visitors, but also potential customers who are actively searching for a product or service.

Search engine optimization is one of the most cost-effective marketing channels. This is mainly because organic search hits are free traffic. Especially in combination with paid search ads (e.g. Google Ads) or other online marketing channels, sustainable search engine optimization forms a cost-efficient online marketing strategy. In contrast to paid advertising, traffic does not completely collapse when the budget is reduced.

Three white crosses

Robert Farquharson drives his three young sons back to their mother, he lives separately from his wife. Halfway there, he drives off the road and the car crashes into a quarry pond. The children drown, the father subsequently states that he had a coughing fit and passed out behind the wheel. The evidence, however, points against him, he is accused of murder and, thanks to a sydney criminal lawyer, comes to court. The case keeps Australia in suspense. Trials and appeals last a total of seven years. In the end, Farquharson is found guilty.

The Australian author and journalist Helen Garner herself comes from the area around the small town of Geelong, where the accident occurred, and drove past the three small white crosses that mark the spot. She attended the trial and has recorded her observations in “Three Sons. A Murder Trial.” Her account is a literary documentation, reportage and family portrait all at once. She oscillates between very factual descriptions of the processing of the evidence and her very detailed personal observations of the events and all those involved.

Garner has consistently chosen the first-person perspective, which makes this pendulum movement comprehensible, shows the contradiction between the desire to remain objective and one’s own feelings about the case, and, beyond the legal level, asks about the mechanisms and effects of the murder trial. She takes a lot of time to portray the people involved in the trial. One almost wants to call them characters, for Garner arranges them as in a courtroom thriller: the defendant protesting his innocence, the ex-wife collapsing in on herself, the determined prosecutors and the feisty defense attorney, the judge presiding over everything, the aloof jury.

Then, as the case is tried over what information can be withheld from the jury to protect Farquharson, Garner becomes aware of the staging tricks that define such a trial. Questions arise about the relevance of much of the evidence and circumstantial evidence, and doubts arise. It becomes clear how protracted the trial is behind the surface reminiscent of a film choreography, how grueling, for example, the meticulous thinking through of the smallest technical details can be. Alongside the atmospheric images from the courtroom, Garner thus reflects on the legal system and asks how jurors are supposed to deal with such a flood of specialized knowledge and conscientiously reach an appropriate verdict.

The reader is close to Garner’s emotional absorption in the case, her difficulty in blocking out the gruesome deaths of the three children, especially in the face of her own grandchildren. Even shortly before the verdict is announced on appeal, she is torn between the overwhelming evidence and the irrational hope that an acquittal could undo the entire case and bring the boys back to life.