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Vaile announces excellent progress on joint FTA feasibility study with China.

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Media release

Thursday, 10 March 2005 - MVT017/2005

Vaile Announces Excellent Progress on Joint FTA Feasibility Study with China

Australia's Trade Minister, Mark Vaile said today that all issues of major importance were now resolved with his counterpart, Commerce Minister Bo Xilai, in finalising the Australia-China Free Trade Agreement Joint Feasibility Study.

"Minister Bo Xilai and I had robust discussions on the outstanding issues relating to the feasibility study on an Australia-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA). These included agriculture, services and manufacturing," Mr Vaile said.

"As part of the discussions relating to the feasibility study both countries agreed that all sectors must be included in any future FTA negotiation.

"Once the remaining detail of the feasibility study has been finalised, Ministers on both sides will present the recommendations to their respective Governments. We expect them to be considered before the Prime Minister's visit to China in April.

"Both sides agreed that FTAs must be consistent with World Trade Organization rules and have the potential to deliver substantial commercial and wider economic benefits to both Australia and China.

"China's economic growth forecasts over the next decade are phenomenal so it is imperative that Australia positions itself to take advantage of this major export market opportunity. We also want to ensure we maintain our competitive edge as China's trade with the world expands," Mr Vaile said.

Mr Vaile also met with the Chairman of the National Development Reform Commission, Ma Kai for discussions on developing further the energy and resources partnership between Australia and China.

Discussions between Minister Vaile and Minister for China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, Li Changjiang included a number of agri-food market access issues, particularly those relating to access to China for Australian citrus .

Contact: Mr Vaile's office 02 6277 7420 - DFAT Media Liaison 02 6261 1555