Aus­tralia and China sign bumper trade deal af­ter 10 years of talks

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Aus­tralia and China signed a land­mark trade deal Wed­nes­day af­ter a decade of talks, pro­vid­ing a boon for growth and jobs by abol­ish­ing tar­iffs across a raft of sec­tors.

Trade Min­is­ter An­drew Robb and vis­it­ing Chi­nese Com­merce Min­is­ter Gao Hucheng for­mally inked the doc­u­ment in Can­berra, end­ing years of of­ten dif­fi­cult and pro­tracted ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott called it “a mo­men­tous and his­toric day for our two coun­tries”.

China is Aus­tralia’s big­gest trad­ing part­ner, with the two-way flow ex­ceed­ing Aus$160 bil­lion (US$123 bil­lion) an­nu­ally.

Un­der the deal more than 85 per­cent of Aus­tralian goods en­ter­ing the coun­try will carry no penalty, ris­ing to 95 per­cent in com­ing years.

With Aus­tralia hav­ing al­ready sealed sim­i­lar pacts with Ja­pan and South Korea, a large per­cent­age of Aus­tralian ex­ports will soon be tar­iff-free.

Aus­tralian busi­nesses cur­rently face charges of up to 40 per­cent on goods sent to China, but un­der the deal penal­ties on vir­tu­ally all re­sources and energy prod­ucts -- a key plank in the trade re­la­tion­ship and among Aus­tralia’s top ex­ports -- will be abol­ished.

Du­ties will also be lifted on agri­cul­tural ex­ports in­clud­ing wine, meat, seafood, and dairy prod­ucts to feed China’s grow­ing mid­dle class.

In re­turn, Aus­tralia will re­move the ex­ist­ing five per­cent tar­iff on Chi­nese elec­tron­ics and white­goods, mean­ing cheaper goods for Aus­tralian con­sumers but some re­duc­tion in rev­enue.

China also won con­ces­sions on for­eign in­vest­ment, with the thresh­old for gov­ern­ment re­view to be lifted in most ar­eas apart from agri­cul­tural land and agribusi­ness.

Un­der­pin pros­per­ity

In a state­ment, the Chi­nese com­merce min­istry said the pact would help fa­cil­i­tate the China- driven FTAAP, or Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pa­cific.

Bei­jing has em­braced the broader FTAAP, which is seen as a ri­val to the pro­posed Tran­sPa­cific Part­ner­ship pushed by the United States but which ex­cludes China.

Robb said that, to­gether with the Ja­panese and South Korean pacts, the Chi­nese deal would un­der­pin Aus­tralia’s pros­per­ity for years to come.

“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,” he said.

One con­tentious out­come could be the tem­po­rary em­ploy­ment of Chi­nese peo­ple in Aus­tralia’s high-pay work­force, a move con­demned by unions.

Elec­tri­cal Trades Union na­tional sec­re­tary Allen Hicks said there was con­cern that Chi­nese in­vestors would be able to use Chi­nese work­ers on projects in Aus­tralia that in­volve an in­vest­ment of more than US$150 mil­lion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.