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China, Australia set to announce grand FTA
November 10, 2014, 5:01 am

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) meets with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 10, 2014 [Xinhua]

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) meets with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 10, 2014 [Xinhua]

Australia and China are set to announce an ambitious second, multi-billion dollar trade deal within a week, negotiations for which has taken almost a decade.

The two sides are aiming to iron out differences to reach an agreement to lift exports and cut the price of some consumer goods by next week. Prime Minister Tony Abbott is in Beijing to attend the APEC Leaders meet that begins on Monday.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Monday she was ” optimistic” that a deal will come to fruition in the coming days.

“It’s looking very positive,” Bishop told Fairfax Media. “(Trade minister) Andrew Robb assures me that the areas of negotiation have narrowed significantly, so we are quite optimistic, but there’s not an agreement until everything’s agreed. ”

“They’re continuing to negotiate and I believe that some considerable progress has been made of recent days, so we will obviously push for as early an agreement as we’re able to get,” she added.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Chinese President Xi Jinping will finalize the new agreement next week at the G20 summit, which is expected to inject in excess of $15 billion into Australia’s economy over the next decade.

Tariffs will be removed from Australia’s biggest mineral and energy exports as a result of the new deal, while food producers will benefit from an increase in horticulture exports.

Australian legal and financial firms will also have increased access to Chinese markets and, in turn, Chinese investors will have a greater influence on the Australian share market due to relaxed investment rules.

Earlier last month, Beijing said it was imposing import tariffs on coal, an announcement that would hit Australian producers of the commodity the hardest. The move is expected to be negotiated during final rounds of discussions on the China-Australia FTA. China is one of the top buyers of Australian coal.

Australia-China bilateral trade exceeded a whopping $150 billion in the last financial year. Canberra’s trade with New Delhi, at $15 billion pales in comparison.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and India Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the Australian parliament in Canberra when they come to attend the G20 leaders’ summit in November.

Australia is also set to export one million live cattle to China each year in a deal worth more than 1 billion Australian dollars ($860 million). The new deal signed last week will set China as the biggest export market for Australian live cattle.

The Australian economy slowed in the second quarter with gross domestic product (GDP) rising a weak 0.5 per cent. The economy is struggling with the winding down of a decade-long boom in mining investment.

Australia has placed great premium on closer ties with China and India over the last few years.


TBP and Agencies