The Age, Melbourne
China FTA talks near next phase: Vaile
24 January 2006
(AAP) Australia and China are ready to progress to the next stage of talks on a possible free trade agreement, the federal government says.
Trade Minister Mark Vaile said a free trade agreement with China would greatly benefit exporters, and discussions between the two countries would enter a crucial phase next month.
"Since April last year, the Chinese and Australian governments have been working on the first stage of negotiating an agreement, which is to exchange information about how our trade and investment systems work," Mr Vaile said in a speech to the Central Queensland Port Authority.
"We are now ready to talk in more detail about the shape of a possible final agreement.
"Our negotiators will meet again in late February."
A free trade agreement with China would increase Australia’s competitiveness against other exporting countries, boost exports and cut administrative controls on downstream markets, Mr Vaile said.