ABC Radio Australia
Questions raised over benefit to Australia of trade deal with China
29 April 2005
A former leader of Australia’s governing Liberal party, John Hewson, has questioned whether a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China will provide any great benefits for Australian exporters.
Australia last week agreed to begin negotiations with China on an FTA.
But Dr Hewson has told an exporters conference, he is not sure what benefits businesses will reap from the deal.
He says China’s exports are growing by nearly 40 per cent a year, while imports are increasing by only about 8 per cent.
"And they may well open up manufacturing, for example, because they’ve got a huge competitive advantage, but in agriculture they’ll be very reluctant to open it up," Dr Hewson said.
"My guess is that the Chinese will, in time, back off and it’ll look like they’ve used us to get market economy recognition, where, as you know, the US and Europe won’t give it to them.
"Whether they’ll stick to broadbased all inclusive negotiations, I really doubt it."