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Trade & Investment

Australia gives up hope on China over free trade agreement


Australia ChinaAustralia has given-up hopes for a comprehensive free trade agreement with China and will instead focus its efforts on a scaled-back agriculture-focused deal with the Chinese government.

The decision comes as China and Australia are deadlocked in negotiations on a free trade agreement because of a dispute about state-owned assets, trade minister Craig Emerson said.

The two nations have been discussing a possible FTA since 2005 but are yet to agree on terms.

Dr Emerson said China has demanded Australia lift its threshold on reviewing the purchase of assets by foreign states from zero to $1 billion.

“We can’t do that, the community would not accept that,” Dr Emerson told a global food conference in Melbourne.

“China is saying, at this stage, non-negotiable, you’ve got to go from zero to $1 billion … so that’s where we’re stuck.”

At present, private sector deals are only subject to review if they are worth more than $248 million.

Victorian premier Denis Napthine said the agreement should be signed as Australia’s number one priority.

“These negotiations have been going on for eight years now, that’s far too long,” he said.

Dr Napthine said Victoria is well placed to lead the way as Asian demand for food increases in coming decades.

Dr Emerson says Australia is committed to finalising a deal but a record amount of produce can still flow to China without it.

He would like to see a heads of agreement signed, and then finer details sorted out at a later date.

He added that a comprehensive trade deal with China is “just beyond both countries” and so Australia had instead turned its focus to “build a foundation” through a narrower agreement, The Australian reported.

He suggested New Zealand’s farm-focused free trade agreement signed with Beijing five years ago could serve as a model, as it led to a tripling of New Zealand exports to China.

Dr Emerson added that Beijing had been slow to respond to Australia’s proposal for a scaled-back agreement, but that more recently China’s response had been “very positive” and “pragmatic”, The Australian added.

Source: Business Spectator – Aust, China scale back FTA talks
 
Via: CraigHill.net – Australia gives up hope on China over free trade agreement
 

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