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Government commits to finalising China FTA

8 October 2013

Finalising Australia’s free trade agreement with China is a key priority for the agricultural industry, provided Australian farmers are able to reap the benefits, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) today said.

NFF President Duncan Fraser has today welcomed the Federal Government’s commitment to finalising the China free trade agreement within one year, but cautioned against signing a deal at any cost.

“Critically, any free trade agreement with China – like those in negotiations with Japan and Korea – must take a holistic view of Australian agriculture and not leave key agricultural commodities out,” Mr Fraser said.

“China is already a major trading partner for Australia – our second biggest agricultural market - and there are major opportunities for our farmers in finalising a deal, provided it provides positive outcomes for our dairy, red meat, pork, rice, grains and sugar industries.

“We have been waiting eight long years for the finalisation of the agreement – and while we can understand the Government’s interest in getting the deal done, it is important that in doing so, we agree on the best possible outcome for Australian farmers,” Mr Fraser said.

Mr Fraser’s comments come following Mr Abbott’s meeting with the Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Australia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bali, where Mr Abbott and Mr Xi discussed the free trade agreement and foreign investment.

Mr Fraser said it was inevitable that discussions around an Australian-China free trade agreement would touch on the issue of foreign investment.

“Foreign investment is likely to become a bargaining chip in the finalisation of the free trade agreement,” Mr Fraser said.

“As we said just last week, foreign investment has been, and will continue to be, very positive for Australian agriculture – provided it is in the national interest, is done in a way that is open and transparent, and creates opportunities for our domestic sector.

“If this can be achieved, and a mutually beneficially agreement reached on the free trade agreement with China, then Australian farmers stand to gain,” Mr Fraser said.

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