Pass a grocery stall in Hong Kong these days and the huddle forming around the piles of bagged grapes will fill the heart of any Australian fruit grower with pride. Hong Kong imported A$80 million (HK$563 million) worth of Australian table grapes last year, a juicy surge of 141 per cent on the figures for 2008, according to a study by the Victorian Department of Primary Industries. And Hongkongers can't seem to get enough when it comes to sampling Australia's wines. Senior officials from both sides last year agreed to promote the development of wine tourism, wine education and wine storage, reinforcing Hong Kong's position as a wine-trading hub in Asia. Australia will also be the partner country in the HKTDC Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair 2010. It's a similar story when it comes to mining, education, consultancy, banking and other markets, Australian products and expertise are highly sought after in Hong Kong and on the mainland. Topping the list of products Australia exports to the mainland is iron ore, one of the basic ingredients for the steel produced to feed the mainland's construction industry. The demand has put Australian mining companies at the centre of the commodities boom. But it's a more appetising product that is whetting the palates of Hongkongers. Les Luck, Australia's Consul General to the city, says: 'Winemakers have embraced Hong Kong's aim to become a regional wine hub, and exports of Australian wine to Hong Kong have grown substantially since the removal of duties - 60 per cent by volume in the 2008-09 financial year. 'The most pleasing part is that the increase is largely at the premium end of the market.' While Hong Kong's bilateral trade with most countries and regions suffered last year, trade with Australia has been relatively resilient, Luck says. Total merchandise trade grew 9.3 per cent year on year, but the consul general says Australian businesses certainly felt the effects of the global turndown, however well grapes and minerals did. 'Australia has withstood the global financial crisis better than comparable countries, being the only one of the world's 33 advanced economies to achieve positive growth over the year to June 2009,' Luck says, attributing timely monetary policy interventions by the government and the Reserve Bank, strong links with Asia and a quality financial regulatory system as some reasons for the resilient economy. 'The difficult economic times really highlight the importance of international forums such as the G20 and Apec [Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum] and the opportunities they create for high-level engagement by leaders and officials on the wider issues affecting our region.' Notable additions to the Australian business presence in Hong Kong over the past year include FlyCam, a world-leading tracking camera system used during the East Asian Games. Solar Sailor, a company making hybrid marine power systems that use solar and wind power, hopes to target the city's drive for cleaner air. The products are aimed at increasing the efficiency and reducing the environmental impact of diesel marine vessels, including passenger ferries. 'Hong Kong waters will soon be home to four more solar-powered hybrid ferries being built by a local shipyard using Solar Sailor's design and expertise,' Luck says. 'Hong Kong Jockey Club purchased the vessels as part of a drive to make the city more environmentally conscious and to prove that green technology makes good sense.' On the cultural front, a contemporary indigenous art exhibition is due in March 'featuring the vibrant and dynamic art being produced in the Balgo Hills region of Western Australia'. The month will also see several Australian writers visit for the Man Hong Kong International Literary Festival. Luck says almost half of Hong Kong's principal officials have made working visits to Australia, while more high-level meetings are planned this year. 'Our relations with Hong Kong are excellent - however, we will not take them for granted,' he says.