Business / Economy

Sino-Australian FTA will deliver 'significant' economic benefit: opposition

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-11-06 16:51

MELBOURNE -- The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) has the potential to deliver "significant economic benefit" to Australia, according to Shadow Trade Minister Penny Wong on Friday.

Speaking at the Economic and Social Outlook Conference (ESOCON) in Melbourne, Labor's Wong said the deal, which was approved by the Opposition last month, will allow greater access for Australian businesses and services to enter the Chinese market.

She said the "hundreds of millions" of affluent Chinese will not only be seeking access to Australian materials, which has been widely discussed, but also Australian services, such as banks, architecture, construction, education, health and aged care.

"Trade with China has been critical to Australia's recent economic performance and it will be critical to Australia's economic future," Wong said.

"It is already our number one trading partner, and it's a major new market with hundreds of millions of affluent consumers increasingly demanding new goods and services and it is a source of investment funds which Australia needs to grow new businesses and new jobs."

Wong said signing the deal with China was important for Australia due to the close proximity of the two nations.

"Our proximity to China represents a great opportunity for prosperity for future generations, and ChAFTA will give Australian businesses better access to China's markets," she said.

"We know China is seeking to re-balance the economy and the CHAFTA give services the chance to take advantage of the demand.

"(It) has the potential to deliver significant economic benefit to Australia."

However, the Opposition Trade Minister admitted the "erosion" of labor market testing was one "shortcoming" of the deal that lacks "economic rationale", according to Labor.

The free trade agreement, once it has passed through the senate, is expected to be enacted in Australia before the end of the year.

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