China and Australia have been in negotiations for what may be a major bilateral free trade deal.

A framework agreement for the potential FTA was signed in October 2003, and talks began in April 2005 after a feasibility study was conducted. Australia seeks a comprehensive agreement covering all sectors, while China seeks to limit the deal’s coverage and hoped to complete negotiations within two years. The pace of negotiations has been slow. Negotiations stalled for over a year after thehe 13th round of negotiations in December 2008. The 18th round of talks was held in Canberra in March 2012.

Australian manufacturers are worried about the potential influx of cheap Chinese goods while local horticulturalists and others are concerned about low wages and poor environmental and food safety standards behind China’s agricultural exports to Australia. Canberra, on the other hand, wants to gain more market access in China for Australian firms, including in the dairy sector where Chinese consumption is growing fast. (Australia trails behind New Zealand and the US in China’s dairy market.)

last update: May 2012


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