Labor welcomes finalisation of negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between Australia and China and calls on the Abbott Government to release the text of the agreement for full public scrutiny.
China is already Australia’s biggest two-way trading partner.
This is an economic relationship which helped Australia to keep growing during the Global Financial Crisis and which will be critical for our future prosperity.
Labor supports freeing up global trade because it drives growth, generates jobs, improves living standards and reduces poverty, both at home and abroad.
We have been the party of trade liberalisation for more than four decades.
A decade of hard work has gone into creating this opportunity for Australia.
That is why we want to ensure this FTA is a high-quality trade agreement.
The fundamental test for any FTA is whether it achieves genuine market access for Australian exporters and supports and creates Australian jobs.
It’s important to look behind the Abbott Government’s political spin and examine the substance of any trade agreement.
Industry and the public need to be provided with the full text of the agreement so they can assess its impact.
It is disappointing that after days of choreographed leaks, the Government has failed to release the text of the agreement.
Improvements in market access for Australian goods and services are good news.
But Labor is concerned that the agreement will fail to improve market access for Australian sugar, rice, wheat, cotton, rapeseed and vegetable oils.
It is also disappointing that the FTA will not completely remove punitive new Chinese tariffs on Australian thermal coal for two years.
The Government must be clear on the details of temporary migration arrangements under the FTA – any provisions on labour mobility must increase, not reduce, jobs for Australians.
Labor has stated consistently that the benchmarks for a genuinely liberalising and high-quality FTA with China include:
- New Zealand-plus market access outcomes for Australian farmers and other exporters;
- Elimination or significant reductions in tariffs on Australian industrial goods;
- Retention of Australia’s anti-dumping safeguards;
- Major improvements in market access for Australian services;
- Reduction in red-tape and other barriers to Chinese investment in Australia and to Australian investment in China;
- No provisions which give Chinese companies operating in Australia superior legal rights to those enjoyed by Australian companies;
- Retention of labour market testing or comparable safeguards on temporary migration.
Labor will use Parliamentary processes to assess the FTA against these benchmarks and to ensure that it is in Australia’s national interest.
MONDAY, 17 NOVEMBER 2014
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SACHA FENTON (WONG) 0467 784 528