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SA signs 'first-of-its-kind' co-operation deal with China
28/06/2012 - South Australia and China have signed an agreement on trade and economic co-operation that the state government says is the first of its kind in Australia.
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Premier Jay Weatherill said the memorandum of understanding established a forum for regular consultation with the Chinese embassy in Australia to discuss bilateral trade and economic co-operation, major trade projects and investment opportunities.
"This is a landmark next step in deepening the relationship between South Australia and China," Weatherill said in a statement.
"It is crucial that we have a strong relationship with China because it is already our largest export destination and it will soon become the largest economy in the world.
"China's growing middle class will be a strong source of demand for our premium food and professional services and its growing urbanisation will continue the demand for our natural resources."
The first meeting under the terms of the agreement took place after the signing in Adelaide on Wednesday and involved the premier, Chinese Ambassador Chen Yuming and senior government and embassy officials.
The South Australian opposition said the agreement with China was just to continue meeting and could not be described as a trade deal.
Trade spokesman Steven Marshall said the state government had dropped the ball on trade with China and should reopen its office in Hong Kong which was closed in 2005.
"Hong Kong is one of the busiest import and export markets in China; it seems extraordinary not to have a dedicated presence there," Marshall said in a statement.
SA Minister for Manufacturing, Innovation and Trade Tom Koutsantonis told reporters that Marshall needed to check his facts about the state's overseas trade representation in China.
"South Australia operates commercial offices in Shanghai and Jinan and we also continue to have a commercial representative in Hong Kong," Koutsantonis said.
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