Australia and China have signed an agreement to further advance trade through the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA). The agreement was signed as China’s Premier Li Keqiang, Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi and Commerce Minister Zhong Shan visited the country.
ChAFTA already supports increased services trade and investment flows by providing improved access and increased regulatory certainty for Australian businesses. The development aims to further reduce barriers and open up new commercial opportunities.
For example, China removed the last remaining restrictions on imports of Australian beef on Friday. China will now accept chilled beef exports from all licensed exporters. Previously sales were limited to just 11 authorized Australian sellers, says Reuters news agency. The deal also covers live animal export and is estimated to be worth in excess of $400 million per year for Australia's meat industry. China has just suspended meat imports from Brazil, the world's biggest exporter of beef and poultry, due to a scandal over sales of rotten and salmonella-tainted meats.
China and Australia have also announced early-stage plans to co-develop a major mine, rail and port project. The A$6 billion ($4.6 billion) project in Western Australia's mineral-rich Pilbara region also includes New Zealand company BBI Group.
Steven Ciobo, Australia’s Minister for Trade, says: “ChAFTA is the most favorable trade deal China has ever done with a developed economy. It has put Australian exporters in pole position to capitalize on China’s growing middle class and their increasing demand for the high quality goods and services Australia offers.”
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: “We have a $150 billion two-way trade relationship, making China our largest trading partner by a wide margin, and almost two million people travel between our countries each year.”
China must feed 20 percent of the world’s population, but has only seven per cent of the world’s arable land. Its middle class is growing at a staggering rate, he said.
“Australia is seizing the historic opportunity to provide the high-quality, safe food and beverages, consumer goods and high-end services of every kind, to meet China’s needs in this century,” said Turnbull.
“As witnesses to that profound truth, Australia and China work together to counter the rising tide of protectionism. Of course, free trade can only thrive in a peaceful and stable environment. Both our countries know this well. Australia and China have both benefited immeasurably from the stability in our region that has been underpinned by the rules-based international order.”