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Australian PM: Free Trade Deal to Benefit Both

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said Tuesday the talks on free trade agreement between Australia and China would benefit both countries despite the complex negotiations to come.  

"Australia and China already have very extensive trade and economic relations, but we can build further on it through the free trade talks that benefit both countries in a longer term," said Howard at a news conference.


China and Australia agreed on Monday to start talks on establishing a free trade area following Australia's recognition of China's full market economy status.


"It (negotiation) is a very complex process," said the prime minister, believing a positive outcome will appear owing to both countries' efforts.


China is now Australia's third largest trading partner, second largest export market and second largest origin of imports. Chinese figures show that two-way trade reached US$20.39 billion in 2004, up 50.3 percent from a year ago.


On his fifth visit to China as prime minister, Howard holds positive views on the future Australia-China relations, saying the ties between the two countries are remarkably cheerful though they are different in cultural background and political structure.


"I am overwhelmingly positive and optimistic about the future relationship," said Howard.


(Xinhua News Agency April 20, 2005)

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