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

Media release

7 March 2005 - MVT14/2005

Vaile Seeks to Finalise Australia-China FTA Feasibility Study

Trade Minister Mark Vaile will meet with China's Commerce Minister Bo Xilai and other senior Chinese leaders in Beijing this week (8-11 March) to try to finalise the Australia-China Free Trade Agreement Joint Feasibility Study ahead of the Prime Minister's visit to China in April.

"Finalising the feasibility study is essential to ensure that both governments have all the background material necessary to make an informed decision on whether Australia and China should enter into FTA negotiations," Mr Vaile said.

"China's opening to the world and its emergence as a major growing industrial power is one of the most significant and positive developments of the past 25 years. China's economic growth forecasts over the next decade are phenomenal so it is imperative that Australia position itself to take advantage of this major export market opportunity.

"Australia's exports to China grew by a staggering 21 per cent in 2004 to almost $11 billion.

"The feasibility study is part of the Government's ambitious strategy to expand our already significant trading relationship with China which has quadrupled in the last 10 years. Not withstanding this success, Australian exporters still face many trade barriers in the Chinese market.

"I have met with Minister Bo and his colleagues regularly since the feasibility study commenced to guide the work of Australian and Chinese officials, and have pursued an intensive engagement with industry including through requests for public submissions and discussions with business."

The joint feasibility study, announced as part of the Trade and Economic Framework signed by Australia and China in October 2003, was due for completion by October this year. However following good progress, Ministers Vaile and Bo agreed last April that the completion of the FTA study could be fast-tracked.

"The study covers goods, services, investment and other issues, such as intellectual property and transparency," Mr Vaile said.

"Like our FTAs with Thailand and Singapore and the work we are doing with Malaysia and Japan, the joint FTA study is a measure of the Government's continued success in advancing an historic agenda of trade and economic linkages with Asia."

Contact: Mr Vaile's office 02 6277 7420 - DFAT Media Liaison 02 6261 1555

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