China continues to be the leading market for Australian services exports, worth 7.5 billion AU dollars (5.8 billion U.S. dollars) in 2013-14, Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb announced on Thursday.
Robb said that figure will only increase as businesses capitalize on opportunities created through the recently concluded China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
Figures released Thursday by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) showed that as overall services exports rose more than 7 percent to 57.4 billion AU dollars (44.6 billion U.S. dollars), services exports to China grew more than 11 percent. "The services outcomes in the Free Trade Agreements we've secured with China, Japan and (South) Korea are exceptional, they guarantee new levels of access to these significant markets," Robb said. "Asia, particularly China's growing middle class, need our world-class services, not only to meet consumer demand, but as a future source of jobs as it transitions from a manufacturing economy to a consumption and service-based economy," he added. "From financial and professional services, through to education, health and aged care, tourism and hospitality and high-end manufacturing, the services opportunities that have opened up throughout Asia as a result of the FTAs are there for the taking."
Robb also noted an increase in tourist numbers, already Australia's largest services export industry, now valued at over 27 billion AU dollars (20 billion U.S. dollars). "The number of short-term international visitor arrivals to Australia rose eight percent to 6.7 million with visitors from China among the largest groups heading to our shores," Robb said. "That number will only increase as the government continues to put in place the settings needed to capture the growth in this market, including the introduction of streamlined visa systems and the tripling of air capacity between Australia and China over the coming years," he said.
Robb said education exports also rose more than eight percent to 16 billion AU dollars (12.4 billion U.S. dollars), underscoring the importance of international education to the Australian economy. "While the economic benefits are obvious, the people-to-people linkages and opportunities the sector generates can't be overstated," Robb said.