Celebrating the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement

By Eugene Clark
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, December 1, 2016
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In my previous article, I wrote about the benefits of globalization and the need for the world to get back on track - more trading, more exchanging of goods and services, more and deeper relationships as we come to the realization that we are all in this together. A concrete example of this is the one year celebration of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).

Australian agricultural exports to China have grown rapidly and are now estimated to be worth more than $12 billion for 2015-2016. At the same time, economic modelling by KPMG indicates that this figure could be much larger

Australian beef, milk and other food commodities have much to offer Chinese consumers. As result of ChAFTA, food exports such as mangoes, mandarins, cherries, oranges, avocados and nuts have grown steadily. China has become the world's largest customer for Australian citrus, with exports up over 50 percent in the past year.

While ChAFTA has had its wins and resulted in a significant increase in trade, there remains much work to be done in both China and Australia. Signing an agreement is one thing; implanting it at the ground-floor level is quite another. There are reports of many Australian businesses, especially in the food industry, that are keen to enter the Chinese market but have been frustrated by rules, regulations (e.g. quarantine), delays and other implementation issues. While the Australian brand for quality and wholesomeness is generally highly valued in China, different provinces and officials at various levels have to implement the treaty, and that takes awareness, new procedures, understanding, cultural adjustment and, above all, time.

China is Australia's largest trading partner, but most of the countries in the world also have China as their largest trading partner. In this highly competitive market, persistence, quality, patience, know-how and know-who are all very important. The competitiveness and size of the Chinese market can be intimidating to Australian businesses, most of which are small- or medium-sized operations.

While agriculture and commodities have shown major gains, the services sector has to catch up. It is thus important for legal, accounting, financial, environmental, managerial, educational and other service areas to keep working closely with Chinese authorities and their professional counterparts in China to develop and deepen relationships so that the full benefits of ChAFTA may be realized.

Over 100 million Chinese now travel as tourists to destinations around the world. Australian tourism needs to continue its efforts to attract tourists to Australia and encourage Australians to see and experience the many wonders of China. Academics and students in both China and Australia should be proactive in engaging with one another in joint educational programs and joint research. Australian universities need to do a better job of engaging with a growing number of Chinese students.

In summary, it is important to take time out to celebrate the wonderful achievements of ChAFTA. In doing so, we must at the same time re-commit at every level to gain the full benefits of this agreement and thus advance peace and prosperity for both countries and the Asian region.

Eugene Clark is a columnist with China.org.cn. For more information please visit:


Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors only, not necessarily those of China.org.cn.

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