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Talking trade with China

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Australian negotiators will outline barriers faced by Australian industry in doing business with China when they meet for the second round of free trade agreement (FTA) talks.

"This meeting will be our first opportunity to start detailed discussions with the Chinese about trade issues of interest to Australia," Minister for trade Mark Vaile said.

"During the past four months, the Australian negotiating team has consulted widely with businesses, interested groups and individuals in all state and territory capital cities and Australian businesses in China.

“A range of interests and concerns have also been raised in more than 260 written public submissions.

"This meeting - and others over the next six months - will focus on gaining a detailed understanding of China's complex regulatory system as it affects Australian trade and investment.

“The meeting will also begin to discuss the possible structure of an agreement, which we will want to ensure adequately covers Australian industry interests."

Australia and China have agreed to establish four working groups for the negotiations covering agriculture, trade in goods, trade in services, investment and other trade facilitation issues.

Vaile encouraged Australian businesses and industries to continue to advise the government of barriers they face in the Chinese market.

"At this initial stage of the negotiations we will be greatly helped by receiving as much information as possible from industry - the more specific it is, the stronger our negotiating position will be," Vaile said.

"The community strongly recognises that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to set the terms for expanding our trade and investment links with an increasingly important trading partner.

“Research by Austrade and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade shows 60% of the Australian population supports an FTA with China.

"As China negotiates preferential trade agreements with other countries where industries compete with ours, it is vital that we grasp this opportunity to stay ahead of the pack.

“We want to sign a high-quality liberalising agreement with commercially meaningful outcomes for Australian business and industry across the board.

"The negotiations will be hard but the Government is prepared to negotiate for as long as it takes to achieve real benefits for Australian business."

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