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

Media release

28 April 2004 - MVT25/2004

Australia and China Fast Track FTA Study

Australia and China have agreed to fast-track their scoping study on a possible Free Trade Agreement after a meeting between Australian Trade Minister Mark Vaile and his Chinese counterpart Bo Xilai in Beijing yesterday.

"Minister Bo and I agreed to fast-track completion of the FTA study to allow both Governments to make an early decision on future FTA negotiations," Mr Vaile said.

As part of that decision, Australia would also bring forward its study on China's market economy status.

The Trade and Economic Framework signed by Australia and China in October last year recognized that Australia and China could only negotiate an FTA on "an equal basis," and that a joint decision to begin negotiations would "only follow Australia's formal recognition of China's full market economy status."

Australia and China had originally agreed to complete a scoping study on a possible FTA by October 2005, but Ministers Vaile and Bo agreed yesterday that good progress made so far should enable an earlier completion of the study.

"China has asked that Australia move to recognise its market economy status, and we have agreed to have further discussions on this issue," Mr Vaile said.

During their meeting, Ministers Bo and Vaile identified considerable opportunities for enhanced trade in services - including education, tourism and telecommunications - to build on the already extensive trade in commodities and manufactured goods.

The ministers also agreed that Australia and China should cooperate more closely to secure a successful conclusion in the World Trade Organisation's Doha Round.

Contact: Matthew Doman 02 6277 7420

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