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Monday, 9 November 2015
Page: 7881


Senator RYAN (VictoriaAssistant Cabinet Secretary) (10:02): I move:

That these bills be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speeches incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows—

CUSTOMS AMENDMENT (CHINA-AUSTRALIA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION) BILL 2015

The Customs Amendment (China-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation) Bill 2015 amends the Customs Act 1901 to implement Australia's obligations under Chapter 3 of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).

Chapter 3 sets out the rules of origin criteria and related documentary requirements for determining the eligibility of goods to obtain preferential tariff entry into Australia under the Agreement.

The complementary Customs Tariff Amendment (China-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation) Bill 2015, will amend the Customs Tariff Act 1995 to set out Australia's tariff commitments under the Agreement.

We have heard a lot about the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement in recent weeks. These amendments, and parallel amendments to the Customs Tariff Act 1995, are the only legislative amendments that the Parliament will need to pass to allow the Government to bring ChAFTA into force. The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, under the outstanding chairmanship of the Member for Longman, is still finalising its report on ChAFTA. However, in view of the sitting schedule, the benefits to Australian businesses of a double cut to tariffs on Australian exports to China, should ChAFTA enter into force before the end of the year, and the importance to the Parliament and the community of seeing the limited changes that are required to be made, we are introducing the implementing legislation at this time. Some amendments to subordinate legislation, as set out in the National Interest Analysis, will also be required in due course.

I had the honour of signing this historic agreement with my Chinese counterpart, Minister for Commerce Dr Gao Hucheng, on 17 June 2015 in Canberra. In close consultation with the Government of China, the Australian Government is working towards entry into force in 2015 in order to maximise the business gains for both Parties.

The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is a comprehensive agreement that will substantially liberalise trade with Australia's largest trading partner. The Agreement will create significant new commercial opportunities for Australian businesses, through increased trade in goods, investment, services and labour. Importantly, the implementation of this Agreement will boost the position of Australian businesses against competitors in New Zealand and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations who are already benefitting from preferential access into China.

On entry into force of the Agreement, over 85 per cent of Australia's exports, by value, to China will enter duty free, rising to 95 per cent on full implementation. As Australia's largest export market, the Agreement will help level the playing field for Australian resources, agricultural and manufacturing businesses.

Tariffs on coal exports to China will be eliminated within two years of implementation, helping Australian coal exporters compete with Indonesian firms, who already benefit from preferential access into China. In agriculture, full implementation is estimated to boost Australian beef production by two hundred and seventy million dollars annually. By 2030, the total benefits for beef production are expected to approach $3.3 billion. Tariffs on products such as barley, oats, sorghum and millet; certain wood and paper products; and certain base metal ores and their concentrates will be eliminated on entry into force of the Agreement.

The Agreement contains simplified and trade facilitative rules of origin and related documentary requirements. Goods imported into Australia that meet the rules of origin, implemented through this bill, will be entitled to claim preferential tariff treatment in accordance with the Agreement.

The amendments also include relevant obligations on Australian exporters and producers who wish to export Australian goods to China under the Agreement and obtain preferential treatment for those goods in China. The amendments also confer certain powers on authorised officers to examine records and ask questions of exporters or producers of goods exported to China in order to verify the origin of such goods.

CUSTOMS TARIFF AMENDMENT (CHINA-AUSTRALIA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION) BILL 2015

The Customs Tariff Amendment (China-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation) Bill 2015 is the second bill relating to the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

This bill contains amendments to the Customs Tariff Act1995 to implement part of the Agreement by:

providing duty-free access for certain goods on entry into force and preferential rates of customs duty for other goods including certain articles of plastic, rubber, paper, textiles, clothing, footwear and base metals, and other goods also specified in the Agreement that are Chinese originating goods;

creating a new Schedule 12 to provide for phasing rates of duty for those goods and to specify excise-equivalent duties on certain alcohol, tobacco, and petroleum products;

phasing these preferential rates to Free in either 3 or 5 annual reductions;

amending Schedule 4 to maintain customs duty rates for certain Chinese originating goods in accordance with the applicable concessional item.

This bill complements the amendments contained in the Customs Amendment (China-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation) Bill 2015.