Our free trade agreement with China — Australia’s No 1 trading partner — is a very significant moment for our nation. It means more jobs and investment and enhanced standards of living. It helps guarantee our prosperity well into the future.

When the agreement is fully implemented, more than 95 per cent of our exports to China will enter duty-free. This means our agricultural produce, resources and manufactured goods will be best placed to compete in this very dynamic market.

China has also agreed to its best-ever deals on services. Our banks, universities, tourism operators and professionals will all have better, more guaranteed access to the Chinese market.

With its massive population and growing middle class, China has enormous potential for Australia. The concessions that we have given to China will lead to increased Chinese investment to grow our economy, increased tourism and cheaper goods for our consumers.

Its win-win-win. Jobs generated and protected by this FTA are not just in one location or one sector; they are across the economy — on farms, in cities and towns, in mines and ports. As China’s economy continues to grow and transform, this agreement will provide opportunities we can’t even predict.

True, China has excluded its most sensitive products from the deal — sugar, wheat and rice — as it has from its other FTAs. But Australia already gets good access at low tariffs for most of these products under WTO arrangements.

China didn’t get everything it wanted either. I didn’t think the time was right to change Australia’s screening of investment by China’s state-owned enterprises.

As we conclude negotiations with China, we look forward to our FTA with South Korea entering into force soon. And we hope parliament will pass legislation to allow the FTA with Japan to enter into force and begin delivering benefits to Australians.

These three agreements account for 61 per cent of our goods exports and 19 per cent of our services trade. When the Abbott government came to office, these three negotiations were in the too-hard basket. This wasn’t good enough for our people or our economy, when our competitors were already capturing our market share.

Concluding these deals was not about getting deals finished at any cost, as some claim. It was about backing ourselves to secure the best deals possible, banking those results and building on them in the future; that is what we have done.

The FTA with Korea is an outstanding agreement that will see 99.8 per cent of Korea’s tariffs eliminated on full implementation.

Our FTA with Japan is the first Japan has signed with a major agricultural exporter, giving 97.5 per cent of our exports duty-free or preferential entry into the world’s third-largest economy. All three agreements give enormous opportunities for growing our services trade, and will deliver benefits to Australians for years to come.

But we aren’t finished yet. A trade deal with India is the next objective. It’s a massive market of 1.2 billion people with strong potential. We are also pushing hard to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, deals potentially worth billions not just to Australia but to our region. Trade is the driver of growth and development; millions of people in developing countries stand to benefit from open markets and freer trade.

No one should play politics with the agreements with China, Japan and Korea. They are ground-breaking deals that will give Australian businesses a winning edge in major markets, driving growth and creating jobs at home.

The China FTA has completed a great trifecta for Australia.

Media enquiries

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