China, Australia Sign Free Trade Agreement

China and Australia signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in Canberra, Australia, on Wednesday in an effort to improve their economic cooperation.

The landmark signing by Australia’s Trade Minister Andrew Robb and China’s Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng finalized negotiations that began ten years ago and followed the Declaration of Intent signed in November by the two countries’ leaders, Tony Abbott and Xi Jinping.

Gao conveyed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s message of congratulations to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Wednesday.

The agreement covers dozens of domains including cargo, service and investment. It will further boost the exchange of personnel and resources between the two countries and benefit the industry and consumers’ interest.

The two countries started the FTA negotiation in April 2005.

Upon full implementation of the wide-ranging agreement, tariffs will be lifted on 95 percent of Australian exports, hurdles for Chinese businesses to invest in Australia will be lowered and more visas for Chinese holidaymakers will be granted.

China is Australia’s largest trading partner, with the trade of goods and services last year exceeding 135 billion U.S. dollars – almost a quarter of Australia’s total international trade.
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