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China-Australia FTA continues to benefit both: official

Xinhua by pengying26/12/2017  

CANBERRA, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- Two years after it first came into effect, the China-Australia free trade agreement (ChAFTA) is continuing to deliver great benefits to both nations, according to Australia's Trade Minister Steven Ciobo.

Commenting on the success of the ChAFTA in a media release published late Wednesday, Ciobo said exports to China rose to record levels in 2016-2017, with wine and skincare products doing particularly well.

"Removal or reduction of Chinese tariffs has strengthened our export numbers to our largest trading partner - Australia's goods and services exports to China rose 25 percent in 2016-17 to a record 110 billion Australian dollars (84.3 billion U.S. dollars)," Ciobo said.

"In the nine months to September 2017, exports of bottled wine grew 61 percent to 498 million Australian dollars (381 million U.S. dollars), skincare products rose 48 percent to 30.7 million Australian dollars (23.54 million U.S. dollars), and unwrought refined lead increased 15-fold to 434 million Australian dollars (332.75 million U.S. dollars), compared with the same period in 2016."

Ciobo said recent positive results would continue as tariffs continue to be reduced between the two nations. He said fresh products such as seafood and fruits would be cheaper for Chinese businesses to import, while wine and skincare products are expected to become even more popular as their tariffs are slashed.

"The fourth round of ChAFTA tariff cuts also come into effect shortly, on 1 January 2018, for products like abalone, oranges, bottled wine and skincare products (etc.)," the minister said.

"This will deliver another boost for Australian exporters and their suppliers. These tariffs will be cut again each year for Australia until they reach zero, adding to the competitive edge ChAFTA currently provides for Australia."

Meanwhile Ciobo said the ongoing success of the agreement could result in further tariff reductions on other products, with negotiations to "enhance ChAFTA commitments" to occur in the near future.

"After the bilateral review of ChAFTA's service and investment chapters is complete, the (Australian) government will seek to open negotiations to enhance ChAFTA commitments in those areas," he said.

"Further improving these elements of ChAFTA will benefit Australia and China and reflect the growing importance of services to both economies."

The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement first came into force on Dec. 20, 2015 after more than a decade of negotiations.