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 to China in April 2014. Major Chinese state‑owned enterprises have invested in iron ore mining and processing facilities in the State, as well as rail and port infrastructure.
In 2016-17, China accounted for almost 50 per cent of the state’s exports and 13 per cent of the state’s imports. Iron ore accounted for 85 per cent of the state’s exports to China. The volume of Western Australia’s iron ore exports to China increased by 5.5 per cent in 2016‑17, and a 27 per cent increase in the iron ore price resulted in the value of iron ore exports increasing by 34 per cent.
In 2016-17, furniture was Western Australia's largest import from China, accounting for 5.4 per cent of the state’s total imports from China.
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.
China is Western Australia’s largest market for agricultural products, accounting for 22 per cent ($1.9 billion) of the state’s total agricultural exports. China is the state’s largest market for a number of agricultural commodities, including barley, wool, oats and sheepskins.
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 Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation supports Western Australia’s trade offices in Shanghai and Hangzhou.