In 2005, Australia and China commenced negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) following consideration of a joint FTA Feasibility Study, which concluded there would be significant economic benefits for both Australia and China through the negotiation of an FTA. China is Australia’s largest two-way trading partner, with trade with Australia valued at AU$150.9 billion in 2013.1 Key benefits of an Australia-China FTA are expected to include:
- the removal or reduction of the tariff and non-tariff barriers affecting bilateral trade in goods,
- the reduction or removal of regulatory barriers which restrict services in order to support improved trade flows across goods and services,
- the implementation of measures to encourage more foreign investment between Australia and China.
Trade Minister Andrew Robb has commented that the conclusion of the FTA is “do-able this year, it could be completed and both governments are determined to bring it to completion later this year.”2 This comment follows Mr Robb’s discussions with the chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission in Beijing over the weekend, and Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s trade negotiations with Premier Li in China in April this year.
If the Coalition Government concludes the agreement before the end of 2014, the Australia-China FTA will be the third FTA concluded by the Government since coming to power in September 2013, having already concluded the Korea-Australia FTA in December 2013,3 and the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement in April 2014.4