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Trade with Australia can grow, Xi says

By Wu Jiao in Antalya, Turkey, and Li Xiaokun in Beijing (China Daily) Updated: 2015-11-17 07:54

 Trade with Australia can grow, Xi says

(From left) President Xi Jinping meets with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey. (Left) Pang Xinglei / Xinhua and Rao Aimin / Xinhua

China and Australia have important shared interests and plenty of room for cooperation, President Xi Jinping said on Monday.

His comments, made during a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the sidelines of the G20 summit, came a week after the Australian Senate passed landmark bilateral free trade agreement legislation.

On Nov 9, the Senate passed bills related to the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, paving the way for Australia to sign the agreement into law. The pact, signed in June, followed 10 years of negotiations between the two countries.

Xi said the two nations should push for the agreement to take effect at an early date. He also asked Australia to provide a fair investment environment for Chinese companies.

When the agreement is fully implemented, tariffs will be lifted on 95 percent of Australian exports, restrictions will be loosened on Chinese investments in Australia, and more visas will be granted for Chinese on working holidays.

The full list of benefits is much longer.

Xi said he expects the two nations to cooperate well on defense and fight corruption together.

Turnbull told Xi his country is closely following China's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) and is looking for more opportunities from China's innovation and urbanization.

On Nov 5, he said Australia needs to rely on growing economies such as China's to help move from a resources-dependent economy to an open and modern market.

He said the free trade agreement with China will create jobs and opportunities for Australians to become part of a rapidly globalized economy.

"Did you know that the Chinese online commerce market is already rivaling that of the US? The rapid growth of its economy, at consumption level, is remarkable," Turnbull said.

Liu Chenyang, deputy director of the APEC Research Center at Tianjin-based Nankai University, said the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is one of the highest-level agreements of its kind that Beijing has signed with another nation.

"Both countries have left room to upgrade the agreement. Given the clear attitude of the new Australian government on China's role in its future development, I'm highly positive on their political and economic ties."

Xi also met with new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday morning. On Sunday evening, he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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