Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham will this week represent Australia at the 8th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) ministerial meeting in Beijing.

Minister Birmingham said the talks would focus on progressing discussions on a free trade agreement that would further integrate Australia into the world’s fastest growing region and encompass almost half the world’s population.

“No other active trade negotiation brings together parties with the collective economic weight of the ASEANs, China, India, Japan, Australia, South Korea and New Zealand,” Minister Birmingham said.

“Nations participating in negotiations account for more than 32 per cent of the world’s GDP, a quarter of world exports and 61 per cent of Australia's two-way trade.

“RCEP has the potential to deliver significant opportunities for Australian businesses as well as further integrate regional markets, lower trade barriers and boost export opportunities in our region.”

Minister Birmingham welcomed China’s hosting of discussions and thanked them for their leading role in negotiations. China’s growth has transformed our region, with Australia’s two-way trade with China surging to a record $215 billion in 2018 with exports increasing by 17.5 per cent to $136.3 billion.

“Australia’s economic relationship with China remains robust and mutually beneficial,” Minister Birmingham said.

“We continue to support and value China's continued economic success which has lifted millions out of poverty and provided widespread benefits to our region.

“This visit will provide another important opportunity for Australia and China to advance our already strong trade and economic relationship, underpinned by the high-quality China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.”

The visit will also include various bilateral meetings with ministerial counterparts as well as addresses to the China-Australia Chamber of Commerce and the China Centre for Globalisation.

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