17/07/2009 - 15:30

Barnett to talk up WA prospects to China

17/07/2009 - 15:30

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Premier Colin Barnett is hopeful of strengthening the state's relationship with China, particularly in the iron and gas sectors, as he prepares to visit the country amidst a political storm.

Barnett to talk up WA prospects to China

Premier Colin Barnett is hopeful of strengthening the state's relationship with China, particularly in the iron and gas sectors, as he prepares to visit the country amidst a political storm.

Mr Barnett's trip comes nearly two weeks after four Rio Tinto employees, including one Australian, were detained reportedly on bribery allegations of Chinese steel mills.

At a press conference this afternoon, Mr Barnett said he will tread carefully with regards to what is said in China given the delicate situation.

"I understand the significance and responsibility that I have on this visit to China and it is a role I take very seriously," he said.

"I will be reassuring government and industry leaders that China is valued by Western Australia as a customer, as an investor and as a supplier of industrial equipment."

China is the state's largest export market with $22 billion worth of trades last year.

Mr Barnett will meet with senior Chinese government officials and provincial leaders as well as executives of companies doing business in Western Australia.

"While recent events, including the collapse of Chinalco's investment bid in Rio Tinto, have caused disappointment and confusion in China, the enormous opportunities for both China and Western Australia in future resources development and job creation should not be overlooked," he said.

"The massive expansion of WA's LNG capacity currently under way has enormous potential to power China's continuing growth.

"Chinese investors are significant partners in resources projects covering iron ore and other industrial minerals, including those of the future such as rare earths, lithium and tantalum."

Mr Barnett will pay particular attention to the $4 billion Oakakee port and associated rail project, and is travelling with project developers Oakajee Port and Rail (OPR).

He said Chinese investment in the project is vital and is keen to establish a true Australia, Chinese and Japanese relationship around the project.

OPR is half owned by Japanese company Mitsubishi.

In addition, Mr Barnett said he is hopeful of establishing gas contracts with the Chinese through the state's upcoming liquefied natural gas projects and encourage Chinese entities to become major investors.

"This will mark China's opportunity to become a foundation investor in a new LNG project taking up to between 10 to 15 per cent ownership of a project," Mr Barnett said.

The premier leaves for China tomorrow.

 

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