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Lobster, grapes big winners in China trade

AAP logoAAP 18/12/2016

Australian mangoes, cherries, grapes, rock lobster and abalone are finding their way onto at least twice as many Chinese plates a year after a free trade deal began.

The federal government is celebrating the first anniversary of Australia's landmark trade deal with China, which came into effect on December 20, 2015.

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo says the tariff cuts in the most favourable deal China has done with any country have meant many Australian businesses have been able to increase their exports massively, leading them to hire more staff.

"The results we're seeing one year in are fantastic," he told AAP.

"Business is booming for those who have taken advantage of the preferential access the agreement offers to the world's second largest economy."

More than six times as many Australian fresh table grapes were sent to China in 2016 than in the previous year.

The number of fresh Australian rock lobsters brought into China almost tripled over the past year.

This increased demand has led to the Geraldton Fishermen's Co-operative - started in the 1950s be a small group of fishermen - now becoming the largest rock lobster exporter in the world with 350 employees and annual sales worth $450 million.

"This will directly benefit the fishermen, their families and the communities in small towns along the south-western coast of Australia," chief executive Wayne Hosking said.

Exports of cherries, mangoes and live, fresh and chilled abalone have more than doubled.

Other Australian products to fare well under the deal are wine, milk powders, skin care products, fresh cheese, unwrought zinc and liquefied propane.

Mr Ciobo expects Australian businesses will benefit further in the new year when tariffs are cut again, ahead of eventually being eliminated.

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