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Australia missing out on China free trade agreement

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-06-21 17:27

SYDNEY - Australia and China should mobilize negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA), Australian Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Julie Bishop said Friday.

Speaking at an Australia China Business Council forum, Bishop commented that there is much more that Australia can do to broaden, deepen and diversify its relationship with China as the country's most important trading partner.

"Through high-level engagement between our politicians, our businesses, our exporters, I believe that we can sustain a long- term trading relationship that will be of enormous benefit to both countries over a very long period of time."

"And to underpin that, I believe we must mobilize a free trade agreement with China as soon as possible covering goods, services and investment," Bishop said.

Australia and China first began talks about a free trade agreement in 2005. But after nineteen rounds of negotiation, with Australia seeking a comprehensive FTA, the deal remains ongoing.

In the most recent talks, held in Beijing over June 4-6, 2013, the Australian government reported "good progress" on sanitary issues and technical barriers to trade, and "constructive discussions" on trade in goods, customs procedures, investment and dispute settlement.

Bishop says this is not good enough.

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