China chips in $1 billion
Merchandise exports doubled past five years to $1.1b
FIVE years to the day after the historic visit to Hobart by President Xi Jinping, China has become the state’s first $1 billion market — accounting for a third of our trade. The Asian giant now not only buys our iron ore, zinc, abalone, salmon and forest products, it also is a big contributor to Tassie’s tourism and education sectors with 44,000 visitors last financial year and 5456 students enrolled to study here.
TASMANIA’S closer relationship with China has helped fuel a $1.2 billion jump in the state’s annual exports since a whirlwind visit to Hobart by Chinese President Xi Jinping five years ago this week.
President Xi and his wife Madame Peng Liyuan dropped by Government House, cuddled a Tasmanian devil and inspected a Chinese icebreaker before the President took in the sights from atop Mt Wellington.
Brief it may have been, but the one-day visit put the state on the TV screens of 1.3 billion Chinese viewers and gave another boost to a trade relationship that was already on a steep ascent.
In the year to August 2019, Tasmania exported $3.71 billion of goods worldwide, an increase of 34.1 per cent compared to the year to March 2014.
Over the past five years, China has become Tasmania’s first $1 billion a year market — our biggest trading partner — accounting for a third of overseas trade.
In 2017 alone, Tasmanian merchandise exports to China grew by 52 per cent.
It is not just traditional exports, but services such as tourism and education which have helped fuel the growth.
Last financial year, 44,400 visitors from mainland China visited Tasmania — up 66 per cent on 2014 — making the country Tasmania’s second largest international tourism source market.
At the same time there were 5456 Chinese students enrolled in Tasmania’s education system, comprising approximately 40 per cent of the state’s total overseas student enrolments.
Acting Trade Minister Jeremy Rockliff said building the relationship was to both nations’ advantage.
“The Tasmanian Government is committed to maintaining a positive relationship with China, which is identified as a key strategic priority market under our trade strategy,” he said.
“We see great opportunity into the future to further grow our export of agricultural products, resources, energy, tourism and services.
“This government will continue to proudly champion our businesses on the international stage through our trade strategy to maintain the growth in our economy and support more local jobs.”
Tasmania’s major exports to China include iron ore, processed zinc, Atlantic salmon, abalone and forest products.
Merchandise exports have almost doubled in the past five years, growing from $610 million to more than $1.1 billion last financial year — taking the total value of exports to China to $1.157 billion.
Five years ago, President Xi visited his nation’s first icebreaker Xue Long, which was berthed in Hobart.
Earlier this month, the ship, and its new sister vessel Xue Long 2 were again in port, underlining the importance of the state’s growing Antarctic sector.
Each such ship visit can inject $1 million into the local economy as they refuel and resupply.
University of Tasmania Vice Chancellor Rufus Black visited China recently, touching base with five partner universities.
Overseas students make up 20 per cent of the university’s enrolments and the 4156 Chinese university students make up the largest single overseas student cohort in Tasmania.
Professor Black said overseas students made an invaluable contribution to the university – and to the wider community.
“In recent years, our university has pursued a strategy centred on growth in international student numbers, particularly those coming from China and India,” he said.
“It helped to achieve the scale needed by a university with the breadth of offerings and multiple campuses that ours has; it strengthened ties to our global community, and added to the cultural richness and diversity of the Tasmanian community.”
Premier Will Hodgman is visiting Europe this week with an eye to building trade relationships there.
His delegation includes representatives from the Tasmanian Maritime Network, the Tasmanian Polar Network, the Australian Industry Defence Network, IMAS, the Australian Maritime College and Hydro Tasmania, as well as our Defence Advocate.
They will meet with senior government and business leaders in the UK, France, Spain and the Netherlands.
Mr Hodgman, who is the state’s trade minister, says he is keen to build on success to date.
“Tasmania’s economy is the fastest growing in the nation and our government’s plan is all about maintaining the momentum,” he said.
Mr Rockliff said building trade and broadening its base was one of the Government’s highest priorities.
“A thriving export sector does not happen by accident, it requires constant engage