SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia welcomed more migrants from China than any other country in the year to June, passing the UK for the first time and underlining the increasing importance of the regional giant to its resource-rich economy.
Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen, on Wednesday said Australia took 29,547 migrants from China, or 17.5 percent of the total program of 168,685. That topped the UK with 23,931, while India was not far behind with 21,768.
“Skilled migrants deliver significant benefits to the Australian economy as their employment contributes to economic growth and their relative youth offsets some of the impacts of the aging labor force,” Bowen said.
Skilled migrants to Australia, which has a population of 22.7 million, accounted for 113,725 of the total, up from 107,868 in 2009/10.
Australia has an acute need for skilled migrants to work in the booming mining and energy sectors, which are investing huge sums to meet demand from China and India.
In 2011/12 the government aims to issue a total of 185,000 migration visas, including 125,850 permanent skilled visas, it said earlier.
The proportion of migrants from the United Kingdom has been declining steadily from a high of 22.5 percent in 2005/06 to 14.2 percent in 2010-11.
Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Balazs Koranyi