Apr 9, 2012

Australia & China strengthen cooperation on infrastructure

Tomorrow, the Australian and Chinese governments will sign an historic Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen cooperation on delivering infrastructure for our nations.

I will sign the MOU on Enhancing Cooperation in Infrastructure Construction with the Chinese Minister of Commerce, Mr Chen Deming, at Parliament House.

This follows my official visit to China last December as the Australian Infrastructure Minister.

The MOU will mean closer co-operation on planning of projects, exchanging information on investment opportunities and technical expertise, training and education, joint conferences, as well as joint infrastructure projects in the future.

Ultimately, this is about creating more jobs, tapping more economic opportunities, and delivering better infrastructure.

Both governments will now also establish a Working Group with membership from government departments and agencies, industry organisations and major financial and business partners to help implement the commitments outlined in the MOU.

Next year marks the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and the People’s Republic of China.

At the time former Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam reopened relations with China, our two-way trade was $113 million.

Today, Australia’s total trade with China exceeds $105 billion, making it the first nation with whom our two-way trade has gone past the $100 billion mark.

China is Australia’s largest two-way trading partner, our largest export market and our biggest source of imports.

Our investment in China, including in Chinese infrastructure was almost $12 billion in 2010, up more than six-fold since 2001.  Similarly, China’s investment in the Australian economy was nearly $20 billion, up from $3 billion in 2001.

Over nearly 40 years, our relationship has gone from strength to strength and today’s MOU signing is yet another example of the depth of our co-operation.

I welcome Minister Chen’s visit to our shores and look forward to working closely with him in delivering greater prosperity for our two nations.