Australian Financial Review
Vaile says no exclusions in FTA
Apr 20 2005
Nothing had been excluded from negotiations on a free-trade agreement between Australia and China, Trade Minister Mark Vaile said today.
He said all products across all sectors were up for negotiation.
Australia and China have signed a memorandum of understanding, paving the way for the start of negotiations on a free-trade agreement.
But Labor says it fears China will push to have major areas, such as agriculture, made exempt from the proposed FTA - something Mr Vaile denies.
"We agreed with a number of principles when we embarked upon this negotiation with China and they are that there are no prior exclusions and that the completed negotiation, if agreed, will be locked in as a single undertaking," Mr Vaile told ABC radio today.
He said he could guarantee all sectors would be included in the negotiations because Australia would not agree to a deal unless it improved trade and investment with China.
"The guarantee that we will give is that we won’t conclude a deal with China unless we believe it is in the national interest, unless we believe that it certainly substantially improves our circumstances in terms of trade and investment with China, that’s the objective," Mr Vaile said.
Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union national secretary Tony Woolgar has warned a FTA with China could be the end of the road for most workers in that sector.
Mr Vaile said he did not agree with the prediction and promised to take a defensive approach when it came to the textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) industry.
"The Chinese will obviously take an offensive position as far as the TCF industries are concerned but it depends what the balance of the deal is," he said.
"And there may be an opportunity for us to maintain, or lock in, the phasing that we have already in place in Australia as far as these industries are concerned. We need to recognise that we are already competing in these areas to a certain extent."