Business / Economy

'Good progress' in Sino-Australia FTA negotiations

By Mu Chen (China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-01 07:40

China and Australia have made considerable progress on a free trade agreement between the two sides and on infrastructure investment, the Australian ambassador to China said on Friday.

Frances Adamson, the Australian ambassador, said that consensus has been achieved on several issues, helped by the synergies arising from hosting two major summits. While Beijing is hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting starting from next week, the G20 meeting will be held in Brisbane, Australia, on Nov 15 and 16.

It has been a "year of opportunity" with both countries working together and sharing common agendas and goals, the ambassador said.

"The work that China has been doing on APEC with Australia's assistance and the work that Australia has been doing in the G20 with China's assistance has created real synergies for both countries," said Adamson.

Bilateral free trade agreement negotiations, which started in 2005, completed the 21st round of talks in Beijing in early September and leaders from both countries have said that it is a priority to conclude the agreement this year.

Although the ambassador could not comment on the contents of the negotiations during the "final stage", she did disclose that the talks do touch upon sensitive issues for both sides, but are being addressed in a positive manner.

Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb will be in Beijing next week for the APEC meeting and is expected to discuss outstanding issues of the trade agreement with his Chinese counterpart.

"We are both working toward a balanced package that will deliver benefits to both countries and that will lay the foundation for a stronger economic relationship going forward ... that will necessarily require concession from both sides," Adamson said.

Another shared interest is the development of infrastructure investment, a key agenda at both APEC and the G20.

China, as host of APEC, is pushing forward a road-map for public-private partnerships in infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, while Australia is advancing a Global Infrastructure Initiative through the G20 summit to help drive quality infrastructure investment across the globe.

However, Australia was a notable absentee among the 21 founding members led by China that signed an agreement for the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in Beijing on Oct 24.

Earlier on Friday, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that the AIIB needs to be more multilateral and transparent for Australia to join but welcomed its creation and China's leadership in it.

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