Victoria has become the first Australian state to officially sign on to participate in China’s mammoth Belt and Road Initiative, building on the state’s strong relationship with China.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a memorandum of understanding between the state and China on the initiative, which represents more than $1.8 trillion of investment to create new trade corridors between China, Africa and Europe along the historic Silk Road.
Mr Andrews said the agreement summed up the state’s China achievements over the past four years, with Chinese investment in the state tripling in that time.
Last year, Victoria’s trade relationship with China was worth around $27 billion.
China is also Victoria's biggest source of international students, with more than 250,000 students from China studying in the state over the last five years.
International education exports in Victoria are worht around $6.5 billion annually, representing the state's biggest services export and providing jobs for more than 30,000 Victorians.
“(The Belt and Road MOU) means more trade and more Victorian jobs and an even stronger relationship with China,” Mr Andrews said.
“With the biggest infrastructure program in our state’s history under way, we have the design and delivery skills China is looking for, meaning more jobs and more trade and investment for Victorians.”
Mr Andrews has visited China four times in recent months, while the Australia-China Belt and Road Initiative established its headquarters in Melbourne earlier this year.
ACBRI was established as a coordination point for Australian companies seeking to participate in the Belt and Road initiative.
While official Australian participation in Belt and Road has not yet occurred, resources exporters such as mining giant BHP have flagged huge increases in commodities demand as the initiative unfolds.
BHP earlier this month released research that tracked commodity demand tied to the initiative, which spreads across 115 countries in Eurasia, Africa, Latin America and Oceania.
Its analysis indicated Belt and Road represented one third of the global economy and would drive investment of up to $US1.3 trillion through 2023.
Victoria has been seeking to get involved with Belt and Road for more than 12 months, with Mr Andrews the only Australian premier to attend a major international forum in Beijing midway through last year.