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Australia, China sign free trade agreement after 10 years of negotiations

Staff writer |
Australia and China signed an agreement to free up trade between the two nations. The agreement, which would help boost market access, is a culmination of negotiations that lasted for almost a decade.

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The deal is expected to augment Australian beef, lamb, dairy, seafood and wine exports to China, while Chinese cars, spare parts, clothes and electronic products would get a free access in Australian markets. Currently, China-Australia trading amounts to $135 billion.

Australia's trade minister Andrew Robb and China's commerce minister Gao Hucheng signed the document in the presence of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The discussions to free up tariffs and market access was initiated in 2005.

Full details of the agreement would be published only after ratification by the Parliament committee formed in last March to review the clauses of the agreement. Australia is mostly worried about the provisions for skilled migration that might replace local workforce.

Prime Minister Abbott said the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is a proof of Australia's trust in China, and is a historic step forward.

A statement from the Chinese government said the agreement is the highest level of overall trade and investment liberalization. Australia would be the second largest destination for China's overseas investment. Earlier, China has signed Free Trade agreement with Japan and South Korea.

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