The competitive position of Australian exporters will be greatly enhanced from today with the official entry into force of the landmark China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).

Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb said from today more than 86 per cent of Australia’s goods exports to China will enter duty free (worth more than $90 billion), while tariffs on billions-of-dollars-worth of other goods exports will be reduced. Once the agreement is fully implemented 96 per cent of Australian goods will enter China duty free.

Mr Robb said tariffs have been cut on a range of important Australian exports including dairy, beef, lamb, wine, seafood, fruit and vegetables, processed foods, vitamins and health products.  Tariffs on coking coal (with exports worth $4.8 billion in 2014-15) have been eliminated, while the phased elimination of tariffs on non-coking coal also starts today.

“This historic agreement with our biggest trading partner will support future economic growth, job creation and higher living standards through increased goods and services trade, and investment. China, with its population of 1.4 billion people and rapidly rising middle class, presents enormous opportunities for Australian businesses well into the future,” Mr Robb said.

“The Government’s determination to see ChAFTA’s commencement before the end of this year will quickly produce a double benefit for our exporters, with another round of tariff cuts to follow on 1 January, 2016. This will significantly enhance our competitive position in the Chinese market.”

Mr Robb said ChAFTA also opens up a range of new opportunities for Australian service providers with significantly enhanced market access for financial services companies, law firms, professional services suppliers, education services exporters, as well as health, aged care, hospitality, construction and manufacturing businesses.

The agreement will also inevitably stimulate new levels of growth in the two-way investment relationship which is currently worth around $121 billion.

“ChAFTA will also help drive innovation as Australian businesses, big and small, increasingly exploit e-commerce and other emerging technologies to connect with Chinese consumers. For example, earlier this year, vitamin supplements manufacturer Blackmores and meat exporter Sanger Australia each signed agreements with to sell their products on China’s largest online shopping website,” Mr Robb said.

“ChAFTA, along with this Government’s ground-breaking trade deals with Korea and Japan, forms a powerful trifecta of agreements with our three biggest export markets. We encourage Australian businesses to take full advantage of the opportunities they present,” he said.

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