The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
FORMER MINISTER FOR TRADE

Media release

Friday, 16 January 2004 - MVT02/2004

Good Start for Australia-China Joint Study on FTA

Implementation of the Australia-China Trade and Economic Framework including a joint feasibility study on a possible free trade agreement (FTA) are off to a good start, Trade Minister Mark Vaile said today.

Australian and Chinese senior officials met in Sydney today to officially begin the process of advancing the Framework.

"Good progress has been made on the implementation of the Framework which I and Chinese Vice Minister Yu signed last October," Mr Vaile said.

"Like our Free Trade Agreements with Thailand and Singapore, the joint FTA study is a measure of the Government's continued success in advancing an ambitious new agenda of trade and economic linkages with Asia.

The initiatation of the study on a possible FTA with China comes as year-long negotiations on a FTA between Australia and the United States enter their final phase. Mr Vaile will travel to Washington next week for talks with USTR Bob Zoellick aimed to conclude the US FTA.

"The fact that the final stages of talks on a trade deal with the US coincide with the earliest stages of talks on a FTA with China underlines the ambitious nature of Australia's trade liberalisation efforts," Mr Vaile said.

"This first Senior Officials'Meeting discussed progress made to date on the joint FTA study and set in train processes for its completion before October 2005."

Senior officials also discussed possible arrangements for a meeting this year of the Australia-China Joint Ministerial Economic Commission (JMEC) and areas within the Framework for further cooperation in trade facilitation.

"JMEC is the key institution for advancing our economic and trade interests with China and provides a valuable opportunity for ministers responsible for trade to address issues to further strengthen the relationship. We want to re-invigorate and strengthen JMEC," Mr Vaile said.

The Framework was signed by Mr Vaile and China's Vice Minister of Commerce, Mr Yu Guangzhou in the presence of Prime Minister John Howard and China's President Hu Jintao on 24 October 2003.

Contact: Matthew Doman (Ministerial) 02 6277 7420 - Nicole Guihot (Departmental) 02 6261 1555

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