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Thursday, 3 December 2015
Page: 14691

Trade with China

Ms MARINO (ForrestChief Government Whip) (14:26): My question is to the Minister for Trade and Investment. I congratulate the minister for overnight winning the prestigious Gold Standard Award for policymaker of the year from PublicAffairsAsia for his outstanding work in delivering free trade agreements for Australia. Will the minister update the House on the progress of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement? What impact will this FTA have on our largest trading partner and on jobs and growth in the years to come?

Mr ROBB (GoldsteinMinister for Trade and Investment) (14:27): I thank the member for her question and note that her rural electorate will reap huge benefits from this trade deal with China. To this end, I am pleased to confirm today that entry into force of this historic agreement remains on track to take place before Christmas, with our exporters being able to reap the benefits before the end of the year. Furthermore, entry into force this year will deliver a double whammy, with the first year's tariff cut to take place before the end of this year over the next three weeks and the second year's tariff cut to take place on 1 January 2016. So we are putting Australian exporters at the head of the pack when it comes to securing market access to this lucrative market, and they will get two years of tariff cuts by the end of the first week of January next year. Entry into force this year is expected to save our agricultural sector alone some $300 million—a great outcome for jobs and for growth and for our nation's prosperity and for confidence in the business sector.

The importance of this deal is further confirmed today with the release of new research carried out by the Australia-China Relations Institute in partnership with the National Australia Bank. This is the first ever report comparing attitudes of Australian and Chinese business leaders on bilateral engagement. The research involves more than 1,500 business leaders. The survey found three principal things: 94 per cent of Chinese business leaders are favourable to doing business with Australia, with Australia ranking No. 1 compared to the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Russia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea and Canada. Secondly, 76 per cent of Chinese companies cite the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement as playing some role in their decision to increase engagement with Australia. Finally, both Australian and Chinese firms identify manufacturing and wholesale trade as focus points for further engagements.

In other words, there is a great sense of anticipation in both countries. We have a situation in which we are seeing interest across the board, which helps us diversify our economy, our growth prospects and our job prospects outside of the resources and energy sector following the finish of the mining boom. I suggest that these results give the Australian business community, large and small, the confidence to not only seek to capitalise on the trade opportunities but in particular also consider the possibility of establishing a presence in China itself, especially to take advantage of the unbelievable liberalisation of services access for Australian companies and the exclusive access to Australia and no other.