For the first time in its history, Western Australia has overtaken all other States to become the country's clear leader in international trade.
Minister with special responsibility for Trade, Gordon Hill, today said the Australian Bureau of Statistics put Western Australia more than four percentage points ahead of its rival, New South Wales, as Australia's largest exporter.
"In the financial year just ended, Western Australia was responsible for overseas sales worth $14,040 million - 26.7 per cent of the country's total," he said.
Mr Hill was speaking at the opening of the International Trade Centre, at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry's premises in Perth.
The Federal Minister for Trade and Overseas Development John Kerin officially opened the centre, which is a one-stop service to provide industry with the necessary support and information to gain access to international markets.
It follows the establishment earlier this year of the Trade Enquiry Service.
The centre has been set up as a co-operative venture between the State Government, the Chamber and Austrade.
Mr Hill said the ABS figures showed just how successful Western Australia had become in establishing new trade links with Asia.
"Just three years ago 59 per cent of our exports went to Asian countries," he said.
"Today Asia takes almost 70 per cent of our mineral, agricultural and manufactured products."
Mr Hill said that in terms of export growth, Western Australia was now by far the country's most productive State, with less than a tenth of the population responsible for more than a quarter of Australia's exports.
He said the figures underlined Western Australia's key role in the national economy and its importance in leading the country back to economic recovery.
"Ten years ago Western Australia was in fourth position among the country's exporters," he said.
"At that time, Queensland was the leading exporting State with 23.5 per cent of the total, followed by New South Wales (23.3 per cent), Victoria (20.8 per cent) and Western Australia (19.7 per cent).
"Today the position has changed radically with Western Australia at 26.7 per cent, followed by New South Wales (22.1 per cent), Queensland (20.6 per cent) and Victoria (18.1 per cent)."
Mr Hill said the line-up of Western Australia's main overseas markets had also changed significantly.
Although Japan remained in first position, its share of Western Australia's total exports had fallen from 35.4 per cent 10 years ago to 29.1 per cent now.
The State's second most important market was no longer the United States but Singapore, which was taking 11.2 per cent of Western Australia's exports against 1.9 per cent in 1981-82.
In order of importance Western Australia's main export destinations were now Japan ($4,086 million); Singapore ($1,572 million); the United States ($1,320 million); Korea ($944 million) and China ($602 million).