The 14th round of negotiations on the Australia-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was held in Canberra from 24 to 26 February. This was the first round since December 2008, a hiatus of 14 months. Overall the 14th round proved to be a positive re-engagement between the two sides and served to consolidate work done so far. Discussions were held in a constructive manner with each side acknowledging the momentum generated by recent high‑level discussions, and the many difficult and sensitive issues that remain to be resolved. The next round will be held in Beijing at a date to be confirmed.
On market access for goods the two sides held a detailed discussion on Australia’s requests for a number of agricultural products. Each side outlined its priority interests, sensitivities and constraints in a straight forward manner. We agreed that these discussions should continue at the 15th round.
Further progress was made in the goods chapters with broad and productive discussions of trade in goods, rules of origin, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues, technical barriers to trade (TBT) and customs procedures. Work will continue in all these chapters at the next round.
On services and investment the round resulted in a useful re-engagement that explored a range of key issues and sensitivities. Discussions centred on updated market access requests in education and movement of natural persons (temporary entry). Both sides engaged in a constructive discussion of investment and services, including text and agreed that we would continue to discuss this area at the next round.
Discussions were held on the institutional and framework chapters and work will continue in those areas at the next round. Australia noted that it remained interested in including provisions on government procurement and competition policy in the FTA.
We would be pleased to receive any updated submissions from industry or interested stakeholders.