Govt targets China free trade deal

Continuing his North Asian tour, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has turned his attention to a trade deal with China.

Following the announcement of a free trade deal with Japan and the formalising of the deal with South Korea, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has turned his attention to a deal with China.

As the SMH reports, Mr Abbott has set himself a deadline of the end of this year to achieve such a deal and his North Asia tour has now taken him to China where trade will be on the agenda.

This trip is an official “state” visit, the highest level of visit which is accompanied by formality and ceremony. Mr Abbott started the visit with one-on-one talks with China's Premier Li Keqiang when he arrived at the southern resort island of Hainan on Wednesday.

From Australia’s point of view, any deal would need to include rights of Australian businesses to invest in China. And the Australian negotiators also want to secure greater rights to provide services in China in areas such as finance, health and ageing services and environmental water management.

Also, Australia wants more favourable treatment of its agricultural exports and the lifting of restrictions on education.

For its part, China wants the $244 million threshold for review by the Foreign Investment Review Board to be lifted, as was the case with the Japan and South Korea deals.

In addition, China would also want to see a more favourable situation for its manufacturing sector. It would welcome the removal of remaining tariffs on footwear and textiles.

As points out, New Zealand signed a free trade deal with China six years ago. As a result, New Zealand has doubled its exports to China.