Australia and China ink multi-billion dollar free trade deal

Australia and China sealed a multi-billion dollar Free Trade Agreement (FTA) later Monday during a visit by President Xi Jinping, officials said. The FTA would boost agricultural exports and help counter the downturn in mining which hurts the Australian economy. Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce refused to reveal details of the deal, but said he was confident it would be “extremely well received”. The FTA is expected to cover an array of issues, including agricultural tariffs and quotas, manufactured goods, services, temporary entry of people and foreign investment. In his speech to the Australian parliament, President Xi stressed that China would pursue peaceful development with Australia and other nations.

If we can alleviate [the downturn in mining] in some way by exports in dairy and exports of beef and exports of wine, horticultural produce, fish, then that is a good outcome for us.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce

The trade talks began in 2005, but stalled last year over agriculture and China’s insistence on removing investment limits for state-owned enterprises. Details have yet to be confirmed, but reports suggest Prime Minister Tony Abbott won a dramatic increase in market access for Australian farmers, services and manufacturers with the deal. Over the past year Australia has sealed free trade deals with Japan and South Korea. Last week, Canberra also unveiled a deal to ship to China one million Australian cattle worth $860 million in an agreement that will double the size of the live export industry. Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Josh Frydenberg said  the FTA would prove “a game-changer” and be worth up to $18 billion to the Australian economy over the next few years.

It will supercharge our trade with China. Up to 95 per cent of our exports over time will enter the Chinese market tariff free.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Josh Frydenberg