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Prosperity the goal in China trade deal

Saturday 20 June 2015 | Published in Regional


CANBERRA – Australia and China have signed a free trade agreement with Prime Minister Tony Abbott hailing it as “history making” for both countries.

Abbott and China’s commerce minister Gao Hucheng signed the deal in Canberra this week following a decade of negotiations.

He said it was a globally significant deal and congratulated the respective negotiating teams.

“What you have collectively done is history making for both our countries, it will change our countries for the better, it will change our region for the better – change our world for the better,” Abbott said.

“This agreement will give our nations unprecedented access to each other’s markets.

“We seize this opportunity of more trade and more investment with China and we complete a trifecta of trade with our major trading partners, not only China but also Japan and South Korea.”

Struck in November, the Government said the China agreement would be worth billions to the Australian economy and boost jobs.

The deal has to be ratified by Parliament before it comes into effect.

The Government said more than 85 per cent of Australian goods exports will be tariff free under the deal, rising to 95 per cent upon full implementation.

Dairy, beef and seafood tariffs are set to be eliminated within years, and the agreement also eliminates all of China’s tariffs on Australian resources and energy products.

“The leaders of our two countries have attached great importance to the signing of this document,” Gao said. “It is a milestone in bilateral relations.”

The deal follows the Federal Government sealing agreements with Japan and South Korea since coming to power.

“We are a leading trading nation. Our prosperity depends on trade and the jobs and economic growth it creates,” Abbott said.

“It means that Australian consumers will pay less for cars, for clothes, for electronics and other goods imported from China.”

Australian businesses currently face tariffs of up to 40 per cent on goods exported to China.

“The landmark agreement will lock in our existing trade relationship with our largest trading partner, and will be a catalyst for future growth across goods, services and investment,” Trade Minister Andrew Robb said.

Together with the Japanese and South Korean pacts, it will underpin Australia’s prosperity for years to come, he added.

“By itself it’s hugely significant but put the three together and you really have got a set of trade agreements with over 50 per cent of our export markets,” he said.

“Given what’s going on in the region, the extraordinary explosion of people going into the middle class, this is a landmark set of agreements.

“It will see literally billions of dollars, thousands, many hundreds of thousands of jobs, and will underpin a lot of our prosperity in the years ahead.”