Canberra, March 12 (Xinhua) -- Australia has now firmly established itself as a reliable supplier of the resources that sustain China's growth, Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson said in a speech on Tuesday, the Australia China Business Council's (ACBC) Canberra Networking Day.
This is illustrated by the fact that China was both the biggest export and import market for Australia in 2011-12, to a combined value of 120 billion Australian dollars (almost 122.8 billion USD), according to Ferguson. "This has in turn created countless opportunities for social and economic development across both countries," he said.
Ferguson said that the energy and resources sector continues to be the cornerstone of economic ties between Australia and China. He estimated that China will drive the estimated one-third increase in global energy demand that the International Energy Agency expects to occur between now and 2035, along with India.
Meanwhile, China is the world's largest consumer of minerals such as iron ore, aluminium, and copper, accounting for almost 40 percent of the global consumption of each. With its rich and diverse resources base, he said, Australia will continue to be a major supplier of these materials.
"Not only has Chinese demand played a central role in the current expansion of Australia's resources industry, Chinese investment has also played an important part." Ferguson also said.
He pointed out increasing the efficiency and productivity of operations in both countries "will be vital to prosper in an environment of falling commodity prices and rising input costs."
In clean energy sector, Ferguson said China is a huge source of potential investment in Australia's growing clean energy sector.
"In the longer term, both China and Australia are aware we need to develop renewable sources of energy that can take the place of fossil fuels." he said. "Both China and Australia understand the potential of developing renewable sources of energy."
According to the data earlier this year, China is now Australia 's second largest market in terms of the number of arrivals, overtaking the United Kingdom in September 2012, with only New Zealand accounting for more arrivals.
And for the 12 months ending December 2012, there were over 600, 000 arrivals from China, a 16 percent increase on the same period ending December 2011.
"China is Australia's most valuable tourism market and contributed 4.2 billion (almost 4.29 billion USD) in 2012 -- a 13 percent increase on the 2011 figure," he said as Minister for Tourism. "Further growth is expected, with the Tourism Forecasting Committee forecasting that arrivals from China will grow by 6 percent per year, on average, to reach around one million by 2020. "