Prime Minister’s Pledge to Speed Conclusion of Australia–China FTA

Statement by Jennifer Westacott on Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s pledge to speed the conclusion of the Australia–China Free Trade Agreement

“Foreign investment and trade have been the backbone of Australia’s economic success,” Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“The Business Council of Australia supports intensifying efforts to conclude the free trade agreements currently under negotiation, including with China, by taking a pragmatic approach. We welcome the Prime Minister’s signal for a practical and achievable approach to concluding a free trade agreement with China,” Ms Westacott said.

“There is now the required high-level support on both sides to overcome remaining obstacles.

”China is Australia’s largest trading partner, our largest services export market, our largest market for agricultural exports and an important source of foreign investment, so there are strong benefits in lowering barriers to our goods, services and investment into that market.

“Obviously the sooner this can be concluded the better – we are already at a competitive disadvantage on a number of exports to China – for example New Zealand and Chilean wine and seafood is entering China at a lower tariff than similar Australian products.

“It is also clear China wants to invest more in Australia, and wants better investment conditions to be part of the deal.

“The Business Council encourages this by supporting an increase in the threshold for Foreign Investment Review Board approval of private foreign investment to the same level already enjoyed by the United States and New Zealand, recognising that foreign investment underpins a stronger Australian economy.

“We should also re look at how we treat foreign investment by state-owned enterprises (SOEs), recognising the increasing importance of SOEs as foreign investors,” she said.

For further information contact:
Scott Thompson, Director, Media and Public Affairs
Business Council of Australia
Telephone (03) 8664 2664 | Mobile 0403 241 128