Trade Minister Craig Emerson today arrives in Beijing, where he will deliver an opening day address at the inaugural China International Fair for Trade in Services and hold trade talks with senior Chinese officials.
Dr Emerson, who on Tuesday signed a free trade agreement between Australia and Malaysia, will use the visit to promote trade in services between Australia and China.
In August last year he led a 100-strong business delegation through China's fast-growing inland cities to explore opportunities in services such as architecture, urban renewal, education and finance.
On this trip he will launch the second edition of the White Paper on Australian Financial Services Business in China, published by the China-Australian Chamber of Commerce.
“China became Australia's largest market for services exports in 2010, and we are keen to build on this as services become increasingly important to China's economic growth,” Dr Emerson said.
Along with his counterpart, Commerce Minister Chen Deming, Dr Emerson will also hear the report of the inaugural Australia-China Services Sector Promotion Forum.
The forum was set up in April last year during a visit to Beijing by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Dr Emerson will hold further discussions with Minister Chen on a possible trade deal.
“I am heartened by the support of the Business Council of Australia for the speedy conclusion of negotiations,” Dr Emerson said.
Dr Emerson warned that expressed opposition to a trade deal within the Australian parliament was hindering negotiations.
“The Coalition is both for and against a trade deal while the Greens are opposed,” Dr Emerson said.
“Julie Bishop wants it to proceed, Tony Abbott wants it deferred and Barnaby Joyce wants it scrapped,” he said.
“Access to the Chinese market on terms comparable with New Zealand would be an enormous boost to Australian farmers, as recognised by the National Farmers' Federation,” Dr Emerson said.
Dr Emerson's visit to China is the fourth leg of an extensive trip aimed at furthering Australia's trade interests across the world.
After signing the Malaysia-Australia free trade agreement, he took part in OECD ministerial meetings in Paris before flying to Korea to open the Australian national day celebrations at the Yeosu Exposition.
OECD press release
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