Australia-China FTA Negotiations

Twelfth round of negotiations

3 October 2008

The 12th round of negotiations on the Australia-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was held in Canberra from 22 to 26 September.

As foreshadowed at the 11th negotiating round, the two sides began more intensive discussions on their respective sensitivities to tariff liberalisation.  Australia pressed China to explain why it was characterising as sensitive a range of agricultural products of interest to Australia.  The two sides also discussed the outcomes of the joint wool study.

The two sides agreed to continue the market access discussion at the 13th round.

The two sides made further progress in discussions on the proposed chapter on trade in goods, with much of this chapter now agreed.  There remain differences on the incorporation in the FTA of WTO-plus commitments on some issues.

The two sides continued discussions on rules of origin, including the rules that would apply to specific products.

Following further progress at this round, the two sides have nearly reached agreement on commitments relating to customs procedures.  We are aiming for substantial completion of this part of the FTA at the next negotiating round.

In response to China’s request for early outcomes on quarantine, we have reminded China that Australia does not negotiate its approach to import risk analyses, quarantine standards or systems for assessing food safety risks in its FTAs.  We have undertaken to consider China’s requests on that understanding.

The two sides made good progress on proposed commitments on sanitary and phytosanitary issues and technical barriers to trade.  We  are aiming for substantial agreement on these commitments early in 2009.

Australia continued discussions with China on Australia’s commercially-focused requests on financial services and education and raised commercially-focused requests on legal services  and telecommunications. We will follow up on this and discuss these issues again at the 13th round of negotiations.  China provided Australia with a list of its requests on financial services.

On investment issues, China continued to express its interest in how the FTA might address Australia’s foreign investment screening regime and access for Chinese mining investors to railway and port infrastructure. Australia clarified the openness and non-discriminatory nature of the investment screening and infrastructure access regimes.

In mining services and investment, Australia continued to pursue a prioritised list of issues.  China re-affirmed its interest in greater access to Australia’s temporary entry provisions. China raised a number of issues relating to traditional Chinese medicines.

On electronic commerce, thetwo sides continued to discuss the chapter text tabled by Australia.  The two sides have now had a full exchange on all of the various provisions of this text.

At this round, we explained the commitments on government procurement we believed should be included in the FTA, and how they related to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement.  China was engaged in the discussion and has agreed to continue it at the next round.

At the 12th round we held two constructive days of detailed discussion with China on intellectual property.  We were able to build on our renewed engagement at the 11th round, intensifying our work.

The two sides agreed in principle to hold the next negotiating round in December, in Beijing.

For more information, contact the China FTA Taskforce: