Australia and China to expand free trade between the two major Asia-Pacific economies

Australia and China have inked a series of bilateral agreements and moved to expand free trade between the two major Asia-Pacific economies in a vote of confidence for regional cooperation in the face of rising protectionism.

Visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull in Canberra witnessed the signing of a number of cooperation documents in such fields as the economy and trade, innovation, agriculture, food, intellectual property, security of law enforcement, tourism and education.

China is Australia’s largest export market, responsible for nearly a third of its total exports. Li said the best way to reduce China’s trade deficit with Australia — which his government had calculated at $50 billion last year — was to increase those ties, warning against the perils of global protectionism.

“We don’t want to see that trade imbalance,” Li said, adding China will seek to lower tariffs with Australia. “We believe that to resolve the trade imbalance we need to expand trade — that is the solution. We cannot close our doors.”

In a speech welcoming Li to Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the “next stage” of Australia’s economic relationship with China would be announced during Li’s visit.

“We intend to open up new opportunities in services and investment, and there is vast scope for us to work together on science and innovation, with a solid foundation on which to build,” Turnbull said, without providing details.

The two leaders announced a major beef export deal set to bolster Australia’s billion dollar chilled beef export market – which is already worth $600 million a year in exports to China.

China, Australia should work together to counter global instability

hinese Premier Li Keqiang called on China and Australia to continue to work together and jointly help counter global instability through steady development and cooperation in a signed article published here Wednesday.

“We have seen in practice how the trend of economic globalization has become closely interconnected with, even inseparable from, peace, development and cooperation,” said the Chinese premier in the article titled “We want to work with you for progress and peace” carried by the Australian newspaper The Australian, ahead of his visit to the country.

Chinese premier warns Australia ‘taking sides’ could lead to new cold war

Australia doesn’t need to take sides between its biggest trading partner China, and its main ally the U.S., Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told lawmakers and business leaders in Canberra.

“We respect your choices in your foreign policy,” Li said on Thursday during his first speech in a five-day visit to Australia. “We don’t want to see taking sides as happened during the Cold War.”

He said Beijing pursued an independent foreign policy of peace, and pursued “national development paths suited to our traditions”, emphasising that throughout his country’s history, peace has “always been the most precious thing”.

China, he said respected Australia’s chosen foreign policies and that “as long as they are consistent with the United Nations charter and international rules – we will work together to maintain them”.

Australia, which has fought alongside the U.S. in every major conflict since World War I, has been careful not to offend China, which was responsible for 31 percent of its merchandise exports in the 12 months to July last year.