research / ACRI Facts

The WA-China economic relationship

August 15 2018

1. In the year to June 2018, the value of Western Australia goods exports to China was $61.5 billion. This compares with a record high of $62.7 billion in May 2014.1

2. Exports to China account for 47.4 percent of total WA goods exports, and are the equivalent of 24.8 percent of Gross State Product.2

3. In the year to June 2018, the value of WA agricultural, forestry and fishing exports to China was $978.9 million. This is up 58 percent from five years ago.3

4. In 2017, WA services exports totalled $6.8 billion, led by personal travel (other than education), worth $2.3 billion, and personal travel (education-related), worth $1.9 billion.

In the year to March 2018, Chinese visitors to WA totalled up 57,200, growing at an average annual rate of 10.2 percent over the past three years. This compared with 148,600 visitors from the UK, growing at average annual rate of 0.4 percent. However, despite being fewer in number, Chinese visitors spent $285 million in WA over the past year, compared with $269 million for those from the UK.4

As of May 2018, there were 6,200 Chinese students in WA, including 4,247 in higher education institutions. They accounted for 16.5 percent of all international students in WA, and 23.7 percent at higher education institutions.5

5. Chinese investment in WA totalled $1.9 billion in 2017, accounting for 14 percent of total Chinese investment in Australia, and was led by mining ($1.2 billion), services ($400 million) and agribusiness ($170 million). The $1.9 billion in 2017 compared with $1.4 billion in 2016 and $114 million in 2015.6

6. According to the 2016 Commonwealth Census, Mandarin is the second most commonly spoken language at home in WA following English, nominated by 1.9 percent of respondents, and up from 1.3 percent in 2011. In 2016 Cantonese ranked fifth with 0.8 percent.7


This fact sheet was prepared by James Laurenceson, Deputy Director, Australia-China Relations Institute, University of Technology Sydney.



1 Australian Bureau of Statistics, August 2018 <>.

2 The figure for Gross State Product is for 2017. Government of Western Australia, August 2018 < regional-product>.

3 Australian Bureau of Statistics, August 2018 <>.

4 Government of Western Australia, August 2018 <https://www.tourism.>.

5 Australian Government, August 2018 <>.

6 Figures include investment deals over $5 million and exclude residential real estate. KPMG and the University of Sydney, ‘Demystifying Chinese investment in Australia’, 2018, < kpmg/au/pdf/2018/demystifying-chinese-investment-in-australia- june-2018.pdf>.

7 Australian Bureau of Statistics, August 2018 <>.