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Australia, China sign landmark Free Trade Agreement
Jun '15
Courtesy: DFAT, Australia
Courtesy: DFAT, Australia
Australia has signed a landmark Free Trade Agreement with China, its largest trading partner, with total trade worth almost $160 billion in 2013-14, and a growing source of investment, the Australian government said in a statement..

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.

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.

On day one of the ChAFTA, more than 85 per cent of Australian goods exports will be tariff free, rising to 95 per cent on full implementation.

One of the highlights of the FTA is that China shall operate the Country Specific Tariff Quota (CSTQ) in a transparent manner and, on request of Australia, provide information on the quantity of the CSTQ issued. Unless otherwise agreed, the rules applying to the administration of the CSTQ for the products of Australian origin will be consistent with the Detailed Rules for Implementation of Administration on Import Tariff Quotas of Wool and Wool Tops in 2015 or any successor rules in force in any given calendar year.

The FTA was signed by Australian trade and investment minister Andrew Robb and his counterpart, Chinese commerce minister Gao Hucheng.

“This agreement will give our nations unprecedented access to each other's markets. It removes barriers to Australian agricultural exports across a range of products, including beef, dairy, lamb, wine, horticulture and seafood. It means duty free entry for 99.9 per cent of our resources, energy and manufacturing exports within four years,” Australian prime minister Tony Abbott said after the signing ceremony.

But Australian trade unions do not quite share the prime minister’s optimism. Unions are deeply concerned the FTA will undermine local jobs and increase unemployment. The Abbott Government has been deliberately vague on the details about labour mobility and labour market testing clauses within the agreement, they say.

“The Abbott Government needs to come clean on the impact the China Free Trade Agreement will have on unemployment and local jobs. Free trade agreements must support local jobs and industry and all indications are that the deal with China does not. There must be strong rules around labour market testing and labour mobility clauses in the China free trade deal to ensure local jobs are protected,” said ACTU President Ged Kearney.

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. Both countries are working to complete these steps and bring the agreement into force as soon as possible. (SH)

Fibre2fashion News Desk – India

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