- Iron ore train at Pilbara Iron on the Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia on June 17, 2008. (Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images)
Global Times (Beijing) | June 22 2010
Australia, China sign deals, push free trade
Australia and China signed new deals worth $8.8 billion Monday and vowed to push for an early free trade agreement.
The signings, witnessed by visiting Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, included deals for China Development Bank to provide financing for several major mining projects, including a $1.2 billion loan for an iron ore development.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd highlighted that seven of the 10 bilateral deals signed Monday covered the resources and energy industries.
"The Chinese are still active partners with all of our resource companies. There is a lot of good stuff going on out there," Rudd said.
Currently, Australia is the biggest exporter of iron ore, alumina, coal and liquefied natural gas to China, and China is Australia’s biggest trading partner and biggest exporting market as well as the biggest importer.
Despite the global financial crisis, Australia’s exports to China still rose by 31 percent in 2009.
Xi said Australia and China should boost their strategic cooperation on energy and resources and push for a free trade agreement at an "early date," because this would be of "strategic interest to both countries."
The China Development Bank agreed Monday a $1.2 billion loan facility for the $2 billion Karara iron ore project in western Australia, which is being developed by Australia’s Gindalbie Metals and China’s Angang Steel.
The bank also inked a preliminary deal to help fund projects for miner Aquila Resources, including its $3.45 billion West Pilbara iron ore project, also in western Australia.
Monday’s agreements also included an expanded partnership between Australia’s dominant phone company, Telstra, and China’s ZTE, whereby Telstra would become the preferred telecoms supplier to ZTE worldwide.
In addition, Australian airline Qantas also announced Monday an expanded code-sharing alliance with China Eastern Airlines.
The Australian government Monday also announced that it would spend about $26 million on luring more Chinese tourists to Australia.