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Vice-premier hopes early FTA deal with Australia

By Lyu Chang | China Daily | Updated: 2014-11-08 08:37

The country hopes to sign a deal over a free trade agreement with Australia at an early date, Vice-Premier Wang Yang said on Friday.

He praised the recent development of strong China-Australia ties and the rapidly growing trade and economic relationship.

The links between the countries have brought many advantages and mutual benefits, he said during a meeting with Roberto Azevedo, general director of the World Trade Organization, and Andrew Robb, Australia's minister for trade and investment.

"Together with Australia, China hopes to speed up the FTA negotiations, seek deeper cooperation on bilateral trade, and boost the economic prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and the world," he said.

There have been 19 rounds of talks with Australia about an FTA since 2005. If a deal is signed, it will be the first of its kind between China and a major developed economy, and it will give Australian agricultural produce easier access to the enormous Chinese market.

Former Australian prime minister Robert Hawke said that, 25 years after the inaugural Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, the development of economic and trade relations between Australia and China were developing rapidly.

He called for a new political and strategic order in the Asia-Pacific region, as "the distribution of wealth and power ... has been shifting, and will continue into the future".

Hawke, widely recognized as the founding father of APEC, made the remarks on Friday during the APEC China Day Summit in Beijing.

"As China's wealth and power have grown, its expectations and aspirations for a bigger regional role have grown too," he said.

"We must accept that any sustainable new order in Asia must accord China a substantially greater position of influence and leadership than it has exercised hitherto."

He said China has much to offer the region in terms of leadership in the decades ahead, as can be seen from the country's achievements over the past 30 years and its close links with its neighbors.

At the same time, he recognized the role of the United States in "creating and upholding the regional order in which all the countries have been able to flourish". However, he added, "It cannot be the same as the role it has played before."

Gao Yuan contributed to this story.

(China Daily 11/08/2014 page5)

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