The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), which entered into force on 20 December 2015, makes commitments on movement of natural persons to support increased trade and investment between the two countries, reduce barriers to labour mobility and improve temporary entry access within the context of each country’s immigration and employment frameworks.
ChAFTA provides improved access for a range of Australian and Chinese skilled service providers, investors and business visitors, thereby providing business with certainty, and building upon the respective commitments made by both countries in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Specifically, China provides guaranteed access to Australian citizens and permanent residents for the following categories:
- Intra-corporate transferees for up to three years (including executives, managers and specialists);
- Contractual service suppliers, in certain sectors, for one year, or longer if stipulated under the relevant contract;
- Installers and maintainers for up to 180 days; and
- Business visitors for up to 180 days.
Furthermore, for the first time in any FTA, China guarantees equivalent entry and stay for dependants and spouses of Australians granted entry as intra-corporate transferees or contractual service suppliers for longer than 12 months.
Australia provides guaranteed access to Chinese citizens for the following categories:
- Intra-corporate transferees and independent executives for up to four years (including executives, managers and specialists);
- Contractual service suppliers for up to four years; including guaranteed access for up to a combined total of 1,800 per year in four occupations: Chinese chefs, WuShu martial arts coaches, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners and Mandarin language tutors (subject to meeting standard immigration requirements);
- Installers and servicers for up to 3 months; and
- Business visitors for up to 90 days, or 6 months for business visitors who are service sellers.
Australia will also provide entry and stay for dependants and spouses of Chinese citizens that have been granted entry in accordance with the FTA for a period of longer than one year.
China and Australia have also committed to expeditiously process applications for immigration formalities, provide timely information on visa application progress, and ensure transparent procedures and requirements relating to the movement of natural persons of the other party.
In order to better facilitate the temporary entry of workers associated with trade and investment, Australia and China will also increase cooperation in the areas of skills recognition and licensing, including through encouraging the streamlining of relevant licensing procedures and improving access to skills assessments.
Investment Facilitation Arrangements
Through a Memorandum of Understanding allowing for Investment Facilitation Arrangements (IFA) Chinese-owned companies registered in Australia undertaking large infrastructure development projects above $150 million will be able to negotiate, similarly to Australian business, increased labour flexibilities for specific projects.
IFAs will provide flexibility for companies to respond to the unique economic and labour market challenges related to large infrastructure development projects. They reflect the Government´s focus on strengthening infrastructure development and attracting investment, leading to the creation of jobs and increased economic prosperity for all Australians.
IFAs will operate within the framework of Australia’s existing 457 visa system and will not allow Australian employment laws or wages and conditions to be undermined. The nationalities of eligible overseas workers under IFAs will be non-discriminatory, consistent with Australia’s 457 visa system.
Guidelines on the operation of Project Agreements, though which IFAs will operate, can be found on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.
Work and Holiday Arrangement
Alongside the conclusion of ChAFTA, Australia and China have also implemented a Work and Holiday Arrangement (WHA) under which Australia will grant visas for up to 5,000 Chinese work and holiday makers annually.
As one of the five super-growth sectors within the Australian economy, tourism is an investment priority for this Government — with the potential to be our fastest growing industry over the next three decades. The WHA will increase demand for tourism services and support the development of Australia’s tourism sector, particularly in rural Australia.
This will help deliver more jobs, increased investment and economic opportunities for communities across Australia.