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China Holds Trade Talks with Australia, New Zealand
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China held trade talks with Australia and New Zealand on Tuesday and Monday respectively, discussing bilateral trade ties and the ongoing free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations.


Following the 11th meeting of the joint ministerial economic commission in Sydney yesterday, visiting Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai and his Australian counterpart Warren Truss both expressed confidence that the two countries could reach a FTA.


It was agreed at the meeting that the negotiations on market access for the trade of goods and services will begin in December.


Truss said the two economies are highly complimentary with Australia having advantages in raw material, agriculture and services, while China in manufacturing, human resources and market.


The proposed FTA will be good for the two sides to elaborate these advantages and further promote the constructive and win-win cooperation, Truss said.


Bo said China-Australia two-way trade volume surged to US$27.3 billion in 2005, doubling the size of 2003 and pushing the trade level between the two countries to the highest in history.


He said the progress made in the past six round of FTA negotiations has deepened the two sides' understanding on each other's concerns.


Bo also tried to dispel Australia's concern that its manufacturing industry might be affected by the proposed FTA.


New Zealand and China had extensive discussions about the FTA at the second joint ministerial commission meeting in Auckland on Monday, said New Zealand's Trade Minister Phil Goff yesterday.


"We reaffirmed this (the FTA) needs to be comprehensive, high quality, balanced and mutually acceptable for both countries," Goff said. "Negotiators must continue to seek these outcomes so we can reach a conclusion in line with the instructions of our leaders."


Goff said New Zealand welcomes progress in other aspects of bilateral trade and economic relationship and agreed the two sides should seek to cooperate in implementing the FTA in due course.


The two sides also talked about the WTO Doha trade negotiations, APEC, the East Asia Summit process and other regional developments.


"China and New Zealand have many shared interests. The joint ministerial commission is a good vehicle for theses exchanges," Bo Xilai said.


The next round of FTA negotiations between the two countries will take place in New Zealand beginning on October 9.


(Xinhua News Agency October 4, 2006)

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