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Australian trade minister to visit China for FTA negotiation resumption
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11:27, April 15, 2008

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Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean said on Tuesday he would start his five-day trip to China on Wednesday for meetings with senior Chinese government and party leaders.

In a statement released to the media, Crean said the visit was aimed at building on the momentum in the free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations created by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in his meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last week.

"China has agreed to unfreeze negotiations, and I will work with my Chinese counterpart Minister Chen Deming to identify problems and possible solutions, and decide on a work program that will increase the intensity of negotiations," he said.

In Beijing, Crean will co-chair with Chen the Joint Ministerial Economic Commission (JMEC). JMEC is the primary bilateral forum for advancing the trade interests with China, including the important trade in resources, agriculture, and increasingly services.

"The Australian Government is committed to concluding a high-quality, comprehensive FTA with China that brings real benefits to Australian industry," Crean said.

He said expanding the trade in services, across a range of sectors, will be one focus of his discussions in China. He will also finalize arrangements for the new Ministerial-led Services Roundtable, which the Australian Prime Minister and Chinese Premier agreed to establish.

China is Australia's largest overall trading partner, its second largest export market for goods, and its third largest market for services. Two-way trade was 54.7 billion Australian dollars (50.8 billion U.S. dollars) in 2006-07.

Source: Xinhua



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