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Australia sends biggest ever trade delegation to China for 'mining to the dining' boom -

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MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: It's been dubbed the "mining to the dining" boom and Australia has sent its biggest ever trade delegation to China to capitalise on it.

It's a major shift in Australia's trading relationship with China as the world's second biggest economy restructures from manufacturing and exports towards services and consumption.

China correspondent Matthew Carney reports.

(sounds of spoken message to business delegates)

MATTHEW CARNEY: On the outskirts of Beijing a vision of the future: a high tech, clean green agricultural centre that uses hydroponics and LED lighting to minimise water, energy and land usage.

It's a message to the 300 Australian business delegates who are touring the site.

Michael Boddington is an agribusiness consultant who's been working in China for 18 years.

MICHAEL BODDINGTON: And this is the key message that pulls in, pulls through, through the government message of sustainable agriculture, food security and food safety.

MATTHEW CARNEY: China's middle class is driving the change. Consumption, not exports is now the biggest driver of the economy. And that's set to grow. By 2030, China is expected to have a middle class of a staggering 800 million people.

Australian producers are well placed to profit from this but Australians already doing business in China say it's easy to underestimate the difficulty and complexity of the market.

Tess Camm from Signature Beef has been selling to the Chinese for a decade.

TESS CAMM: You actually have to drill down, make specific relationships. Not every relationship is successful and not every enquiry comes through with a sale so it's a process of doing the legwork, doing the homework, researching the companies, building the relationship.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Guy Adams runs the family winery Brothers in Arms and says doing business in China is all about patience.

GUY ADAMS: The way people see business, they do business, the style of the thing they're looking for, the taste, the packaging, everything is quite complex so one model does not suit all.

MATTHEW CARNEY: This week, 1,000 business people will be visiting 150 locations all over China to capitalise on the new market access delivered by the free trade agreement signed last year.

The Minister for Trade and Investment, Steven Ciobo, is not deterred by the slowdown in China and says the volumes of trade are massive. Slower growth rates of 6.9 per cent of GDP are equivalent to 12 per cent growth rates of a decade ago as the economy has doubled in size.

STEVEN CIOBO: What we want to do is grow Australian exports, grow Australian opportunities for investment and if we do that successfully, we know that we'll drive jobs and growth in the Australian economy.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The value of Australia's food exports to China has grown 16 per cent over the last decade and at this rate the Reserve Bank predicts it will overtake iron ore by 2030.

Prime Minister Turnbull will fly into tomorrow to support the trade push.

This is Matthew Carney reporting for AM in Beijing.