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Australia, China sign landmark free trade agreement

Australia, China sign landmark free trade agreement

The deal was announced by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott who called it “a momentous and historic day” for the two nations.

By (PTI)

Published: Wed 17 Jun 2015, 12:57 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:58 PM

Melbourne - Australia on Wednesday signed a landmark Free Trade Agreement with China after more than a decade of negotiations, providing a boon for jobs and growth in the country in coming years.

The deal was announced by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott who called it “a momentous and historic day” for the two nations.

The agreement was signed by Australian Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb and his Chinese counterpart Gao Hucheng in Canberra today following a decade of negotiations.

“The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (CHAFTA) will lock in existing trade and provide the catalyst for future growth across a range of areas including goods, services and investment,” Abbott said.

“The Agreement secures better market access for Australia to the world’s second largest economy, improves our competitive position in a rapidly growing market, promotes increased two-way investment and reduces import costs. It is a win for households and businesses alike,” he added.

“It will change our countries for the better, it will change our region for the better, it will change our world for the better,” he said. “This agreement will give our nations unprecedented access to each other’s markets.”

China is Australia’s biggest trading partner, with the two-way flow exceeding 160 billion dollars annually.

Noting that the leaders of the two countries have attached great importance to the signing of FTA, Gao said, “It is a milestone in bilateral relations.”

Under the deal more than 85 per cent of Australian goods entering the country will carry no penalty, rising to 95 per cent on full implementation.

Abbott said Australia’s agriculture sector would also be able to capitalise on its well-deserved reputation as a clean, green producer of premium food and beverage products.

Tariffs will be progressively abolished for Australia’s USD 13 billion dairy industry.

“Australia’s beef and sheep farmers will also gain from the phased abolition of tariffs ranging from 12-25 per cent and all tariffs on Australian horticulture will be eliminated,” the prime minister said.

Under the deal, the tariffs on cooking coal were also removed from day one, with the tariff on thermal coal being phased out over two years apart from tariff elimination on a wide range of Australian manufactured goods, including pharmaceutical products and car engines.

“ChAFTA completes a historic trifecta of trade agreements with our top three export markets, accounting for more than 55 per cent of our total goods and services exports. Together, these agreements will enhance our vital trade and investment relationships in the region, assist the process of reform, and foster greater prosperity,” he said.

The agreement will enter into force after the completion of domestic legal and parliamentary processes in China and Australia, including review by the Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, and the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee.

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