A free trade agreement with China had the potential to achieve significant long-term gains for the Australian economy, provided the Agreement delivered effective market access and competition for Australian business, the BCA said today.
“The growing size, strength and structure of the Chinese economy presents substantial and exciting opportunities for Australian business,” BCA President Mr Hugh Morgan said.
“The BCA sees the potential FTA with China as an important step for furthering liberalisation of trade and investment in the region. Agreements such as this, whether formal or informal, have an important role to play in deepening linkages and fostering development.
“While there is tremendous scope for Australia and China to achieve deeper and broader economic and strategic engagement through a comprehensive FTA, the most important issue for business is what the agreement can deliver in terms of real business opportunities on the ground.”
The BCA welcomed the release of the joint Scoping Study between the two countries which should enhance broader understanding of the scope and implications of an FTA, including the issues surrounding the granting of Market Economy Status to China.
The Australian Government must continue to work to ensure that there is broad public understanding and support for an FTA.
The BCA believes that negotiations on an FTA must aim to achieve the following:
- Comprehensively address all barriers to trade in goods, services and investment, including movement of people and intellectual property.
- seek to reduce the scope for government intervention that impacts on the ability of Australian companies to compete effectively in China.
- Support China’s full and ongoing participation in the WTO.
- Establish commitments for robust and compulsory processes of dispute settlement.
- Incorporate mechanisms for ongoing, regular, formal and informal consultation and cooperation on issues related to increasing free trade and investment opportunities between the two countries.
The BCA will continue to work closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade so the views of business are reflected and incorporated throughout the negotiation process.