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Today's Feature


North-south logistics boost: China and Australia sign free trade agreement


CHINA and Australia have signed a bilateral free trade agreement known as ChAFTA, writes Michael Clover in the UK's Transport Intelligence. The agreement is set to open up the trading relationship between China and Australia, he says, which was worth A$159.6 billion in the 2013-14 financial year.

Such liberalisation has already led to higher volumes on Australia’s trade lanes with Japan and South Korea, especially for agricultural goods, and we can expect a similar surge in the trade between Australia and China.

All this will be welcome news for logistics providers. Further increases in volumes will help to boost revenues and the liberalisation of regulations around investments by foreign companies will make taking advantage of these goods flows easier and more profitable.

ChAFTA should help to raise the volume of trade between the two countries and to make doing business between the two countries much easier.

The deal still has to be ratified on a domestic level by both Australia and China but with both governments supportive this should be a formality, though it is notable that the agreement has faced criticism from the Australian Labor Party and trade unions.

The criticism is mainly centred on fears that ChAFTA will damage employment prospects for Australians by hurting Australian manufacturing and by allowing Chinese citizens to work in Australia more easily. However looking at the trade figures it seems the overall effect for both economies will be positive and both governments suggest that the agreement could be implemented within six months.

China is Australia's largest export partner, accounting for nearly a third of exported goods and services. The deal itself covers all of Australia’s major exports including almost all resources and energy products.

On the first day of the agreement tariffs on 85 per cent of all goods will be dropped, including those on aluminium oxide and coking coal. Tariffs on thermal coal will be phased out over two years.

Expectations are that the deal will be fully implemented by 2020 at which point 95 per cent of Australia’s exports will be tariff free.


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