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Overseas investment: building blocks of trade.

Speaking at the opening of a conference in Shanghai today, Trade Minister Bob McMullan, said that Australian direct investment in China provides one of the building blocks for future growth in trade between Australia and China.

"It's an all too common misapprehension that investment overseas by Australian companies weakens Australian economic performance and costs jobs," Senator McMullan said.

"In fact, investments in the booming economies of Asia, including China's, can bring direct trade benefits to Australia.

"For example, many Australian companies use Australian produced goods and services in their overseas ventures, thus creating new markets for Australian products.

'This translates into jobs back home."

Current realised Australian investment in China stands at about $600 million but, on the basis of contracted proposals, is set to rise to $2 billion.

Senator McMullan also announced that an upgraded Austrade office will be opening in Shanghai shortly, in addition to two new outrigger offices in Xiamen and Nanjing. Two further outrigger offices will be opened early next year when suitable locations are identified.

Funding for these new operations was provided in the "Working Nation" statement (White Paper on Employment).

Austrade offices in China are currently located in Beijing and Guangzhou, as well as Shanghai, with an outrigger office in Hangzhou.

"This substantial expansion of Austrade's network in China will assist Australian firms in identifying commercial opportunities and provide better service to Australian businesses," Senator McMullan said.

Senator McMullan is leading an Australian business mission to Hong Kong and China.

The Conference in Shanghai (Head of the Dragon) was organised by the Australian Chambers of Commerce in China and Hong Kong.

Contact: Mick Trimmer (06) 277 7420