Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb is to intensify his efforts to secure trade deals with China, Japan, and South Korea.
The Australian reports that Robb has been given a mandate by the cabinet to break the deadlocks in trade talks with the three Asian nations. As such, he will travel to Asia within the next few weeks with the intention of making progress on the issue.
The renewed urgency follows Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s recent statement that he would like to finalise the three deals within 12 months and also secure a trade deal with the US by the end of this year.
Significantly, Robb said that the government would not be changing its election pledge to cut the threshold for Foreign Investment Review Board scrutiny of foreign purchases of agricultural land from $248 million to $15m.
This policy is one of the main obstacles to a trade deal with China.
The Opposition recently claimed that it makes the prospects of a deal impossible and even Liberal West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has claimed that the regulation discriminates against China and should be changed.