China and Australia have signed a trade agreement that is set to increase market access for Australian beef and wine exporters while boosting Chinese carmakers and electronics producers who wish to sell their goods to Australians.
But as ministers from both countries promoted the benefits for industries and consumers, the Australian Labor party and the Greens vowed to scrutinise the yet-to-be-released details to ensure it was a good deal.
One flashpoint is the inclusion of an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause, which grants foreign companies the right to sue governments for breaching commitments in such agreements. The Australian union movement has also raised concerns about the access to be granted to Chinese citizens under labour market provisions.
Both governments concluded negotiations on the free trade agreement (FTA) in 2014, but it was formally signed in Canberra on Wednesday by Australia’s trade minister, Andrew Robb, and China’s commerce minister, Gao Hucheng.
Gao said it was a “comprehensive, high-quality and balanced agreement” that was a milestone in relations between Australia and China. “It is the highest degree of liberalisation of all the FTAs China has so far signed with any economy,” he said.
The Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, said the agreement would give each nation “unprecedented access to each other’s markets” and pointed to the reduction in tariffs imposed on trade.
via The Guardian