Australia and China’s trade relationship in the 21 st Century
Australia regards the relationship with China as one of its most important. The bilateral relationship is based on shared interests and mutual respect, an approach which offers the best prospects to maximise shared economic interests, advance Australia 's political and strategic interests, and manage differences in a sensible and practical way. The trade and commercial relationship is growing rapidly, with twoway trade growing at an average of around 20% over the past five years. The most significant recent milestone was the decision in April 2005 by Prime Minister Howard and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to commence negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement. A high-quality ambitious FTA, that includes goods, services and investment, would further expand the commercial relationship, delivering major benefits to both countries.
However, the promised FTA raises concerns in some sectors in Australia. Manufacturing is an obvious area of Chinese strength. Australia has an open and transparent trading regime and China already has liberal access to our market. By comparison, China has pockets of high protection which limit the entry for competitive Australian agricultural products. Some stakeholders have raised concerns about the negative impact on some manufacturing industries of the growing size and competitiveness of China’s industries. Nevertheless, trade with China provides opportunities for Australian industry. Also on a positive note, China's demand for and Australia's supply of mining and energy products are highly complementary. China's ongoing industrialisation and urbanisation will continue to require big inputs of Australian minerals, metals, and energy resources.