Australia said on Tuesday broadening its diplomatic presence in key trade partner China was a priority as it announced its intention to open a new consulate-general in the city of Chengdu.
China is Australia’s largest trade partner and a major investor in its vital resources sector, with total trade valued at over Aus$113 billion (US$119 billion) in 2010-11.
The country is also Australia’s fastest growing and most valuable international tourism market.
Prime minister Julia Gillard said the new mission in the Sichuan provincial capital would “help boost trade and business links”, calling the China relationship a “priority” for the government.
“The new consulate-general will increase our diplomatic footprint and will help build on our ever-growing relationship with China,” she said.
Australia already has embassies or consulates in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong with the Chengdu office its the first new diplomatic mission in China since 1986.
Many Australian companies, including Bluescope Steel, Rheem, ANZ and Cochlear, are already active in western China with the new office opening once formal paperwork is completed.