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China, Australia to step up efforts on trade ties

Reporter: Greg Navarro 丨 CCTV.com

04-14-2016 12:52 BJT

The Australian delegation is hoping to seize upon opportunities presented by the Free Trade Agreement between China and Australia. More than three months after it went into effect, some sectors of Australia’s economy are already seeing benefits -- with the promise of more to come.

After 10 years of negotiations -- and years of raised expectations about freer trade with China, some Australian industries are finally reaping the rewards.

"In things like healthcare, Blackmores has already been able to sign some very significant deals because of the growing middle class and emphasis on well being and health in China. And in building in these second and third tier cities right around China, the new architecture provisions that allow Australian building and architecture experience have greatly benefited their bidding for contracts," said Tim Harcourt, professor at UNSW.

Agriculture is another winner of the initial tariff reductions -- along with increased demand for things like dairy products and Aussie beef.

"Cattle prices are quite high in Australia in the expectation that we are going to increase our exports to China and sheep meat prices are pretty good at the moment too so we are certainly seeing activity there, we are seeing activity in the wine industry," said Jim Harrowell, President of NSW ACBC.

China is already Australia’s biggest trade partner. In 2014, that relationship was worth more than $80 billion USD -- accounting for roughly one out of every three export dollars Australia earned.

Experts say one of the most immediate impacts from the Free Trade Agreement has been the incentive it’s created for many Australia businesses, start ups, and industries, to start thinking about how best to do business with China.

"The relationship we’ve developed over the last 40 years is just in its infancy and 100 years time from now it will be very significant," said professor Harcourt.

But businesses and companies are being urged to take a more active role now -- especially considering the global competition for a piece China’s growing middle class demands.

"Business really has to pick up the ball and run with it -- government can’t create business and make it work properly it can certainly be a facilitator and a door opener, but we really have to take advantage of the opportunity presented," said Jim Harrowell.

And that’s important as Australia tries to replace the void left by the end of the mining boom -- to a more flexible economy, with a greater emphasis on agriculture and service sector exports.

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