Speaking from Beijing today Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb said the unions’ opposition to the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) is nothing short of economic sabotage.

“I am here in Beijing with 35 Australian CEOs who are hard at work creating business opportunities that will boost prosperity back home for years to come,” Mr Robb said.

“Every one of them is eagerly awaiting ChAFTA’s entry into force later this year; they are telling me that we must move ahead or miss out on literally billions of dollars in additional revenue for industry and our economy.

“They are employing people and putting plans in place now in expectation that business will flow following entry into force in a matter of months,” he said.

The Minister’s delegation includes vitamin supplements manufacturer Blackmores who formalised a strategic partnership with JD.com that could see a ten-fold increase in its sales to Chinese consumers. 

Blackmores’ Chinese business is already substantial, contributing strongly to the company’s recent 83 per cent profit increase, which supported paying an additional six weeks profit share to most of its 900 staff.

Sanger Australia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with JD.com to provide the first Australian chilled, retail-ready beef product to Chinese consumers online. 

The MOU will see a new premium brand introduced to the Chinese market, First Cut Pure Australian Beef, building on Australia’s strong reputation for high quality food. 

According to Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), Australia is China’s number one beef supplier with 42 per cent of total imports worth $760 million. MLA’s latest estimation is that ChAFTA will be worth an additional $830 million each year by 2024 to the Australian red meat industry.

“Today we have two major deals between Australian and Chinese companies that illustrate the future of our business relationship with China,” Mr Robb said.

“In both sectors the FTA delivers lower tariffs for their exports to China, and it just beggars belief that certain union officials would be leading a campaign to white-ant these kinds of opportunities.

“Even the esteemed former Labor leader Bob Hawke has come out in support of the China Free Trade Agreement, so I call on Bill Shorten to stop doing the unions’ bidding and start putting Australia’s future first,” he said.

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