Free trade deal – China wants more foreign workers allowed

As part of a possible free trade deal, China is pushing for Australia to allow Chinese workers to come to Australia to work on projects backed by Chinese investors.

The Australian Financial Review reports that the issue of foreign workers coming to Australia is one of the major hurdles in the Current free trade negotiations between Australia and China.

A source told the AFR, “They are pushing pretty hard on this sort of thing, especially on regional projects.”

“They can be deployed quickly and bring in the skills they need.”

However, the Australian Government, aware of the potential unpopularity of such a policy, is resisting the demand.

The government could potentially avoid the problem by targetting 457 visas towards projects that the Chinese want to build that require skills that cannot be obtained in Australia. Therefore, the workers could be accommodated under existing visa arrangements.

As the SMH reports, the other main obstacle to an FTA with China has been the Foreign Investment Review Board.

It is expected that China will receive the same offer as Japan and South Korea. The FIRB threshold will rise from $248 million to $1 billion for investment by a private company.