More Australian businesses will be able to showcase their produce first-hand to the growing China market under a new joint initiative between Austrade, the Australian Football League (AFL) and the Port Adelaide Football Club, to be launched ahead of the upcoming AFL premiership game in Shanghai.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham said the ‘Festival of Australia’ will span ten cities over two-weeks, stretching from Tianjin to Shenzhen and finishing in Shanghai where Port Adelaide will take on St Kilda at the premiership match.

The program will include a significant number of events and activities supported by a comprehensive digital marketing strategy to reach consumers, buyers and potential investors in all corners of China.

“China and Australia have deep commercial and cultural ties, built over many years, but there is significant opportunity to grow exports of quality Australian products and services to the world’s biggest consumer market.

“As well as promoting premium Australian food and beverages, the Festival will highlight Australia’s capability in healthcare, culture, tourism, sports, education, financial services, business and innovation spheres.

Austrade is coordinating the Festival in partnership with industry, including Wine Australia, Meat & Livestock Australia, Dairy Australia, Hort Innovation, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Tourism Australia, State Governments, Australia-China Chambers of Commerce and the AFL.

Highlights include Wine Australia masterclasses, a Tmall Global online promotion, the annual Australia-China Business Awards Dinner, consumer and alumni competitions, business delegations promoting sports technology asset management and aged care, and Australian photography exhibitions, Indigenous music performances and film screenings.

The Festival will culminate in the third Australian Football League premiership game in Shanghai, between Port Adelaide and St Kilda, on 2 June.

“The Liberal-National Government welcomes the new three year commitment to conducting this premiership game made by the two clubs and the AFL.

“We are committing up to $250,000 of annual government support towards this initiative, in addition to $400,000 recently announced for Tourism Australia to be the official tourism sponsor of the 2019 Toyota AFL premiership game.”

The AFL and Port Adelaide Football Club, which have a Joint Venture to organise the annual AFL match in China, welcome the decision.

“Today’s announcement is an incredible vote of confidence for what Port Adelaide is doing in China,” said Port Adelaide Chairman David Koch.

“When we first played an official game in China in 2017, people were pleasantly surprised at what had been achieved. Now, the annual match which is to a large extent the product of Port Adelaide’s vision and excellence, is the anchor of a significant event for Australia in China. I couldn’t be prouder.

“This is the realisation of everything I thought this game could be,” said Koch.

“Our sport brings people together. It is a great context around which people from all backgrounds can meet and network. Now, as the anchor of a broader program of business and cultural activity, the annual AFL match has found its rightful place on the landscape of the Australia-China relationship.

“I encourage all businesses with a focus on China, and all footy supporters, to be there. With the announcement of this Festival of Australia, all roads lead to Shanghai. I can’t wait.”

The AFL also welcomed this decision.

“On behalf of the AFL, we thank the Government for their three-year commitment to support the Festival of Australia in China,” said AFL CEO Gill McLachlan.

“This support will ensure our game becomes a marquee event in the Australia-China business calendar.

“Today’s announcement and the Government’s commitment certifies the momentum built on the first two Shanghai matches extends into the future both on and off the field in China.”

The match will be broadcast on Guangzhou TV and Shanghai TV and will coincide with various marketing and promotional activities to help entice more Chinese travellers to Australia.