Aus­tralia pact signed

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHONG NAN in Bei­jing zhong­nan@chi­

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.

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