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China free trade deal to resume

China free trade deal to resume article image
Australia and China have proposed to restart negotiations on a free trade deal, putting behind diplomatic tension that has threatened to delay talks. Minister for Trade Simon Crean is scheduled to speak with Chinese counterpart Chen Deming on the sidelines of the APEC Ministerial Meeting in Singapore, while an envoy of Chinese delegates will also visit Australia. Negotiations for an Australia-China free trade agreement began in 2005 but progress stalled at the 13th round in December 2008 over agriculture and intellectual property. "It has been difficult to advance essentially because of problems that the Chinese have in relation to agriculture. We understand those issues," said Crean. "We have to be patient with this exercise but the political will is crucially important in the Australia-China relationship." China is Australia's biggest trading partner with two-way trade worth about $76 billion in the 2008/09 financial year.

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