Australian businesses, universities and health care providers have access to 14 countries as part of the largest free trade agreement ever signed, as the federal government strives to transform the new trading bloc into a separator in its divisive trade dispute with China. The 15 nations decided to sign the agreement on Sunday without India and instead added a clause that will allow it to join later. Opinions on the benefits of free trade agreements have always been shared. Opponents argue that free trade agreements reduce the interest of participants in multilateral liberalization, reduce efficiency through trade diversion, jeopardize cultural diversity and primarily serve non-economic interests. Proponents argue that free trade agreements prepare participants for multilateral liberalization, create trade through “head-to-head effects” and benefit consumers through increased competition. The Australian government will use the trade bloc, modelled on the European Union in the Indopapacific region, to re-enter China into multilateral negotiations and end trade disputes that have affected a dozen Australian industries and threatened $20 billion in exports. “It will be much easier for much of the Australian economy to operate abroad,” said Senator Birmingham. “Given the increase in middle income groups in many RCEP countries, the demand for more safe, high-quality health, education and other services, which Australia is well able to provide.” Australia and ASEAN are partners in the challenges we face, with the economic and health recovery of Southeast Asia essential to us,” said Mr Morrison. The Australian government will use the trade pact to meet with Chinese ministers as soon as meetings resume next year.
The Chinese Communist Party has frozen contacts with Australian ministers since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak following several disputes over an independent investigation into the origins of the pandemic, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. In October 2003, Australia and Thailand concluded negotiations for a comprehensive free trade agreement. The text was formally signed by both countries in July 2004 and came into force on 1 January 2005. Australian and Chinese negotiators led the 15th round of negotiations for a free trade agreement to Beijing from 28 to 30 June 2010. Negotiations for a free trade agreement with China have been particularly slow and both sides have shown some frustration at the lack of progress. Negotiations are now in the fifth year. There are still many difficult and sensitive issues, and significant progress is unlikely in the short term unless there is increased political interest in China in the negotiations. Free trade agreements (FAs) offer a competitive advantage to Australian businesses. By removing and removing certain barriers to international trade and investment, free trade agreements benefit Australian exporters, importers, producers and investors.