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China, Australia push FTA talks
July 25, 2013, 9:44 am


Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang (right) meets Australia’s Trade Minister Richard Marles [Xinhua]

Officials from China and Australia have announced that they will step up talks on a strategic free trade agreement (FTA) during a meeting in Beijing.

Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said he hoped the two countries could reach a trade agreement soon during talks with Australia’s Trade Minister Richard Marles on Wednesday.

The Asian nation is Australia’s largest trading partner.

Marles said the Australian government attaches great importance to the development of bilateral trade relations.

“We need to put these on a path to conclusion; there is so much for the Australian economy to benefit by having a trade agreement in terms of expanding the breadth of our economic engagement with China beyond resources,” Marles was quoted by the Australian.

The two countries began free trade talks in 2005.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called in June for the earliest possible conclusion to the pending FTA during his first news conference since returning to office.

“The Australian side is willing to show flexibility and will actively push for progress in the FTA negotiations”, Marles said during the meeting on Wednesday.

The 19th round of talks was held in June but the negotiations did not go smoothly due to differences on opening up markets and protecting intellectual property rights.

In a recent Lowy Institute poll, 50-57 per cent of respondents said there was too much Chinese investment in Australia, in stark contrast to opinions of government officials and business people, shows an analysis by Dirk van der Kley of the Lowy Institute.

With inputs from Agencies