The free trade agreement signed by Australia and China late last year is "delivering" for Australian businesses, the nation's Minister for Trade and Investment said on Monday.
Steven Ciobo said the Chinese appetite for premium Australian products such as wine, beef, seafood and vegetables had contributed to a number of impressive gains in export levels, and praised the government's decision to sign the historic China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).
He said the reduction and abolition of tariffs on agricultural products had led to a big increase in export requests from China; something he said was greatly benefiting Australian businesses and would continue to do so for "years to come."
Among the best performing exports were bottled wine, lobsters and fresh cherries, while products such as beef, other varieties of seafood and livestock feed all experienced significant rises in export levels.
"Between January and March 2016, Chinese imports of Australian bottled wine grew more than 60 percent compared to the same period 12 months previously, to reach 160 million U.S. dollars, as tariffs were cut twice, from 14 percent to 8.4 percent," Ciobo said in a statement released on Monday.
"With tariffs cut, China's 9 million U.S. dollars' worth of imports of fresh Australian lobster between January and March were triple those of 12 months ago, and exceeded China's entire 2015 imports of Australian lobster. Milk powder and fresh cherry imports more than doubled."
"Chinese imports of other products -- including fresh mangoes, fresh abalone, fresh and frozen boneless beef, various types of cheese, and hay and chaff -- grew impressively as ChAFTA cut tariffs and boosted Australia's competitive position."
Ciobo said the encouraging export figures would continue to rise as Asia's middle class grows, with increased demand not only from China, but from Japan and Korea as well, after Australia signed free trade deals with both nations earlier this decade.
"This positions Australia to continue to capitalize on the rapid expansion of Asia's middle classes and their demand for the high quality produce and other goods we can provide," Ciobo said.
"This means exciting opportunities for Australian businesses and will drive jobs and growth in the Australian economy."