Background Paper: The Australia-China Trade and Investment Relationship
China is Australia's largest trading partner. It buys almost a third of all Australian exports, and is the top overseas market for many Australian goods and services. Trade and investment with China is a big part of Australia's future.
The Australia-China economic relationship is extensive and growing strongly. The two economies are highly complementary and provide a broad range of opportunities for two-way trade and investment.
Trade in goods and services
Resources and energy make up the largest share of Australia's exports to China, with iron ore, natural gas and gold leading the way.
As China's economy develops and the consumption habits of its rising middle class begins to change, opportunities are opening up for a more diversified relationship with a growing focus on premium agricultural exports and services such as finance, health and aged care, as well as professional services.
Trade in Goods and Services with China
Largest two-way trading partner (surpassing $271.5 billion in 2020), accounting for almost a third of Australia's exports.
Largest export market for agriculture, resources and services.
Important destination for service exports ($10.3 billion in 2020-21).
Resources and energy also play an important role in the China-Australia investment relationship. China is an important source of foreign investment in Australia. Foreign investment in Australia means greater infrastructure, more productivity and more jobs for Australians.
Australian businesses are choosing to enter the Chinese market with success, with banking and wealth management the leading sector of Australian direct investment in China. Investing in China means Australian businesses can tap this large, growing and increasingly sophisticated market.
The Australia-China Investment relationship
The stock of two-way investment between Australia and China is growing, reaching $166.8 billion in 2021.
China was Australia's 8th largest investor in 2021 ($92 billion).
Total stock of Australian investment in China was valued at $74.8 billion in 2024, making China our 12th largest investment destination.
High Level Economic Engagement
The China-Australia FTA augments the high-level bilateral mechanisms already in place between Australia and China.
Australia and China have a growing range of common interests in multilateral and regional forums. Both countries are members of the G20 and APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation), with Australia and China respectively chairing these important global and regional forums in 2014. Australia and China also share interests as members of the World Trade Organization, which China joined in 2001, and international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.