The Abbott Government must deliver a high-quality free trade agreement (FTA) with China that is in Australia’s national interest – not a second-rate deal struck solely for the Prime Minister’s political interests.

The fundamental test for any FTA is that it achieves genuine market openings for Australian exporters and supports Australian jobs.

That is why Labor is concerned at reports from Beijing that the Government is preparing to cut Australian sugar producers out of the proposed FTA with China.

This would be a re-run of the Howard Government’s approach of selling out the sugar industry in the dying hours of the negotiations for an FTA with the United States in 2004.

We are also concerned that the FTA may fail to put Australia’s dairy industry on a competitive footing with the New Zealand dairy industry in the Chinese market.

Provisions on movement of people in any FTA must strike the right balance between fostering employment opportunities for Australians while ensuring businesses can secure the skills they need.
That means Australia should retain the ability to require employers to show there are skills shortages if they wish to fill job vacancies using temporary migration provisions under an FTA with China.
Labor urges the Government to provide a formal update on the status of FTA negotiations with China.
It's time for greater transparency on trade from the Abbott Government.

Australians deserve more than a series of choreographed leaks about the China FTA in coming days.
Constant and confused media “drops” like the one we saw on cattle today and announced “end dates” are no way to run FTA negotiations.

Labor believes 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;
• Reducing 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.
If Mr Abbott’s China FTA falls short of these benchmarks, it will be another case of this Prime Minister talking big only to bring home a second-rate trade deal.


Joint Media Release

Senator the Hon Penny Wong, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Shadow Minister for Trade and Investment, Labor Senator for South Australia

Joel Fitzgibbon MP, Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs, Spokesperson for Country Caucus, Member for Hunter

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