The Australian, Canberra
Business groups seek a bold but balanced FTA
20 April 2005
ALL barriers to trade and investment must be tackled in a "bold" China free trade agreement that business groups said should even lead to easier visas for travel, education and tourism.
Business Council of Australia president Hugh Morgan also said there should be an end to the government interference in Beijing that often prevented Australian companies competing in China.
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Peter Hendy said the two governments should be bold in seeking an agreement with the broadest coverage of industry sectors and the "highest degree of liberalisation".
Australian Services Roundtable director Jane Drake-Brockman said the study recommendations were weak on government procurement, simply talking about scope for enhanced co-operation.
Reflecting its base in manufacturing, the Australian Industry Group was more cautious about the agreement, with chief executive Heather Ridout saying negotiations would require a sensitive balance between opportunity and risk.
Executive officer of the Council of Textile and Fashion Industries, Ashley van Krieken, said estimates that employment in the industry would drop by 5.3 per cent were shocking.