FTA will benefit Asia-Pacific region at large

Updated: 2014-11-18 10:03

By Wang Hui in Sydney, Australia (chinadaily.com.cn)

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FTA will benefit Asia-Pacific region at large
President Xi Jinping and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott walk from Australia's House of Representatives chamber at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday. [Photo / Agencies]

Among agreements reached between China and Australia to deepen bilateral ties, the announcement of completed negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) is a blessing to the two economies and the Asia-Pacific region at large.

There had been signs in past months that the two countries were quickening FTA negotiations. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on several occasions that his country was expecting to sign the FTA by the end of the year, and high-ranking Chinese officials responded with a warm welcome.

The much-expected announcement, made during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Australia, shows the countries’ strong commitment to lifting bilateral trade cooperation to a higher level. It also shows nine years of talks on the bilateral FTA have finally paid off.

Conclusion of the negotiations means officially tying the knot is just a matter of time, and chances for an official inauguration before the end of the year certainly loom large now.

Analysts in both countries have deemed the China-Australia FTA will produce a win-win outcome. Media from both sides exhausted the use of words such as “milestone,” “epoch-making”, “landmark” and “historic” as soon as the news was released.

This is the first free trade agreement China has signed with an important Western country and the Chinese economy is of unparalleled importance to Australia. The significance of a China-Australia FTA goes beyond bilateral scope.

For both countries, the FTA is a game-changer. It will cover more than 10 areas, including trade in goods and services, investment and trade rules, as well as such subjects as e-commerce and government procurement.

It will complement each other’s economic advantages, boost win-win cooperation, bring mutual benefits and promote the in-depth development of bilateral economic and trade ties, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

The deal is reportedly worth around $18 billion. According to News Corp Australia reports, 85 percent of all Australian exports will enter China tariff-free under the deal, while the Sydney Morning Herald reported that tariffs for 93 percent of Australian goods exported to China will be cut to zero before 2019. Tariffs applying to Australia coal will be exempted in two years too.

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