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China free trade legislation passes the Senate

China free trade legislation passes the Senate article image

After months of uncertainty, implementing legislation that will pave the way for the ratification of a Free Trade Agreement with China, was passed in the Senate earlier this month.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb says Australian businesses are now another step closer to realising the enormous opportunities created by the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA). 

“The Government has worked hard to ensure this high-quality agreement with our biggest trading partner enters into force before the end of the year, and today’s vote marks a significant milestone in that process,” Mr Robb said.

“Entry into force this year will see an immediate round of tariff cuts, followed by a second round of cuts on 1 January 2016, allowing the benefits of the agreement with China to flow quickly through to Australian exporters and consumers.”

Following the vote, Mr Robb acknowledged the support of the Opposition, which he said continued Australia’s long-standing tradition of bipartisan support for freer trade.

The Customs Amendment (China-Australia Free Trade Agreement) Bill 2015 and the complementary Customs Tariff Amendment (China-Australia Free Trade Agreement) Bill 2015 passed the Senate after being approved by the House of Representatives on October 22.

Working with China

The bills set out Australia’s tariff commitments under ChAFTA and will enable goods that satisfy the FTA’s rules of origin, to enter Australia at preferential rates of customs duty.

Amendments to several regulations – including those the Government agreed to with the Opposition last month – will shortly be submitted to the Executive Council for approval.

“The agreement will enter into force when Australia and China have both completed their domestic treaty-making processes, and we’re working with China for this to happen as soon as possible,” Mr Robb said.

“Together with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the trade agreements with Asia form a key plank of the Government’s strategy to promote jobs, growth and innovation in this critical post-mining boom period.

“The powerful trifecta of Asian agreements account for over 62 per cent of Australia’s export market and provide Australian businesses with access to more than 1.5 billion people, opening up endless opportunities across goods, services and investment,” he said.

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