The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP

Media Release

Friday, 24 October 2003 - MVT85/2003

Australia-China Trade and Economic Framework

The signing today in Canberra of the Australia-China Trade and Economic Framework, marks another important milestone in the Australia-China relationship, Trade Minister Mark Vaile said today.

"The new Framework reflects the Government's strong commitment to further trade and investment linkages with Australia's third largest trading partner. China is the world's fourth largest merchandise trader and sixth largest economy," Mr Vaile said.

The Framework sets a clear agenda for the bilateral trade and economic relationship over the coming years. It includes a commitment by both governments to undertake a detailed joint study into the feasibility and benefits of a free trade agreement (FTA) between Australia and China. The study is to be completed by October 2005 and will provide the basis for Australia and China to decide whether to negotiate an FTA.

"China has made tremendous progress toward establishing a fully fledged market-based economy and has emerged as an important regional and global economic player. Our commercial relationship with China is expanding more rapidly than with any other major trading partner. Australia-China two-way merchandise trade has almost trebled since 1996-97 to be worth in excess of $22 billion in 2002-03," Mr Vaile said.

The Framework also cover a wide range of activities on issues and in sectors aimed at improving commercial and policy linkages. These cover sectors such as energy and mining, agriculture, textiles, clothing and footwear, services, investment, education, ICT, and policy issues including food safety, health, customs cooperation and intellectual property rights.

"This package widens and deepens bilateral trade and investment linkages. I am confident that it will deliver improvements to the overall business environment to both country's mutual benefit," Mr Vaile said.

The Australia-China Framework follows Australia's FTAs with Singapore and Thailand, and the trade and economic framework signed with Japan in July.

"These, and our FTA negotiations with United States, demonstrate the priority the Government attaches to developing economic linkages with our key trading partners in the Asia-Pacific region to their full potential, enhancing the economic prosperity of all Australians," Mr Vaile noted.

The Framework was signed by Trade Minister Mark Vaile and China's Vice Minister of Commerce, Mr Yu Guangzhou in the presence of Prime Minister John Howard and China's President Hu Jintao.

Contact: Matthew Doman 02 6277 7420

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