Western Australia’s trade relationship with the People’s Republic of China is based on economic and social ties built over more than a quarter of a century.
The state has been a key source of iron ore for the steel that has underpinned China’s economic expansion.
Chinese President Xi Jinping acknowledged Western Australia’s contribution to the modernisation of Chinese infrastructure during the Western Australian Premier’s visit in April 2014.
In 2015-16, China accounted for 48.5 per cent of the state’s exports and 13.9 per cent of the state’s imports. Iron ore accounted for 79.1 per cent of the state’s exports to China. The volume of Western Australia’s iron ore exports to China increased by 8.3 per cent in 2015 16, but a fall in the iron ore price resulted in the value of iron ore exports falling by 7.1 per cent.
In 2015-16, iron, steel and aluminum structures were Western Australia's largest import from China, accounting for 10.2 per cent of the state’s total imports from China.
Major Chinese state owned enterprises have invested in magnetite mining and processing in the Pilbara, as well as rail and port infrastructure.
Western Australia’s liquefied natural gas exports to China are likely to grow, as China plans to raise the share of natural gas in its energy mix.
Western Australia also provides opportunities for Chinese trade and investment in industries outside the resources sector, such as agriculture.
In 2014 15, agriculture exports to China rose 22.3 per cent to $1.7 billion. China was the state’s largest market for barley, wool, canola, mutton, oats and wine in 2014 15.
Support continues along the supply chain to establish and expand the export of live cattle to China to respond to demand for high-quality Australian-produced beef.
Many trade and investment opportunities have sprung from the long term sister state relationship Western Australia enjoys with Zhejiang province. Along with regular science, technology, research and exchange programs, the sister state relationship provides a platform on which other interactions – trade, business and cultural – are built.
The Department of State Development supports Western Australia’s trade offices in Shanghai and Hangzhou.