Minister confident of sealing Australia-China FTA this year

Minister confident of sealing Australia-China FTA this year article image

The federal government is confident of finalising a free trade agreement with China before the end of the year. 

In a recent interview with Bloomberg Asia, the Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb said there is political will on both sides to complete the agreement. 

“We are both, I think, getting more and more confident that we can complete it this year, Mr Robb said.  

“China needs our services and we need their investment ... so there is a great imperative for both of us. 

“Hopefully we can make it happen by the end of the year.” 

China is currently Australia’s biggest export market, with resources and energy driving strong growth in recent years. 

“We’re looking for a free trade agreement to give more breadth to that relationship in terms of trade, and more depth,” Mr Robb said. 

A free trade agreement would take Australia to the next stage – beyond the resources and energy boom. 

Structural framework 

This would result in a wider relationship with China into a new phase of agriculture, agribusiness and services. 

Mr Robb said both countries have developed a structural framework for the agreement following a previous visit to China earlier this month. 

“There is a political will, I think, on both sides … and there is certainly a need.”   

Mr Robb said the government is also working to nail down the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). 

“I would say that it is probably 80 to 85 per cent there,” Mr Robb said. 

He is hopeful an agreement can be reached in the first half of next year. 

The TPP aims to establish a free trade area in the Asia-Pacific – a region that accounts for half of all global trade. About 70 per cent of Australia's trade flows through the region. 

There are currently 12 parties negotiating the TPP, five of which are among Australia's top 10 trading partners (Japan, US, Singapore, New Zealand and Malaysia). 

Conclusion of the TPP would open new trade and investment opportunities for Australia in the Asia-Pacific region.


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