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Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Page: 11993

Trade with China


Mr COLEMAN (Banks) (14:12): My question is to the Minister for Trade and Investment. Will the minister advise the House on the importance of bringing the historic free trade export deal with China into force?


Mr ROBB (GoldsteinMinister for Trade and Investment) (14:13): I thank the member for his question. He is a very positive and constructive conduit to the Australian Chinese community.

For decades, we have enjoyed bipartisan support in this country for freer trade, and I am pleased to advise that, in regard to the free trade agreement with China, our biggest trading partner, that proud tradition is set to continue. I join the Prime Minister in thanking the opposition for their constructive approach. The China deal is a major component in our plan to support the diversification of our economy in this quite critical post-mining-boom stage. To this end, this agreement is of the highest quality. It will greatly enhance our competitive position with the world's second-largest economy. It will rapidly see the rise of middle-class and exploding consumer demand in China being able to be accessed—the services and the goods and the investment—by many Australian businesses in the years ahead. It is by far the most ambitious agreement China has done with any developed country and it is giving us the first-mover advantage in so many areas. China will ultimately provide concessions to other countries, but we have got our foot in the door with so many areas that no other country has got. It provides unprecedented openings for Australia's high-quality services.

On full implementation, 95 per cent of Australian trade with China will enter duty free. If the agreement can be brought into force this year it will save our exporters several hundred million dollars in tariff payments in 2016 alone. Agriculture will benefit, just by that early entry, by $300 million and just today on the news, with the agreement reached with the opposition, the chairman of the Australian Dairy Industry Council, Noel Campbell, described the China FTA as a 'once in a generation opportunity to grow business in our communities'. He went on to say, 'It is important that ChAFTA is implemented this year so our industry will be able to take advantage of two tariff cuts in rapid succession. It is good for growth, good for jobs, good for the economy and a boon for our export market.' Importantly, it is also good for business confidence and it is very good for our relationship with China and will stand us in good stead for decades to come.

The China free trade agreement will form a very potent trifecta with the other two agreements in North Asia, Korea and Japan. With the transformative benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, in this spring-racing-carnival stage of the year we will be well on the way to landing a quaddie. (Time expired)