Australia pact signed
A landmark free trade agreement signed by China and Australia on Wednesday is expected to further reduce commercial barriers between the two countries.
The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement aims to boost bilateral investment, the service sector, mining and agricultural trade to upgrade a regional trading system.
President Xi Jinping exchanged congratulations on the agreement with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
More than 85 percent of Australian exports to China, its largest trading partner, will enter duty-free under the pact.
Nine-five percent of goods from Australia, including beef, dairy produce, wine and marine products, will be duty-free upon full implementation of the agreement within 12 years.
All Chinese exports to Australia will be tariff-free under the timeline designed for the agreement.
Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said consumers will have access to more high-quality agricultural, energy, mineral and completed industrial goods imported from Australia at lower prices.
“The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is one of the most progressive FTAs in trade and investment liberalization either (country) has ever signed,” Gao said.
China, which is eager to seek more new market growth points with close trading partners, has signed 14 free trade agreements with countries or regional blocs including Switzerland, New Zealand, South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Wednesday’s agreement covers areas including most-favored-nation status, simplified review procedures for investments and easier market access rules for the service sector.
It was signed in Canberra, the Australian capital, by Gao and Australia’s Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb.
A statement from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said the agreement can also drive cooperation in East Asia through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.
Abbott said the trust between the two nations that had already fueled significant bilateral investment would expand with “the beginning of the next chapter” in joint ties. “The unprecedented agreement we have signed today will not only enhance trade between our two countries, but also our investment,” Abbott said.