24 March 2017
VISIT TO AUSTRALIA BY CHINA’S PREMIER LI KEQIANG
It is an honour to welcome Premier Li Keqiang, his wife Professor Cheng Hong and members of the Premier’s delegation to Australia.
As we mark the 45th year of Australia-China diplomatic relations, Premier Li’s visit is an opportunity to reflect on how much we have achieved and take steps to ensure our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership continues to strengthen into the future.
The visit underscores Australia’s and China’s shared commitment to promoting greater prosperity and security in our region, including through deeper regional and bilateral trade and investment liberalisation.
The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is a great example of what can be achieved when two countries work constructively together. One year into ChAFTA, tariffs have reduced dramatically with over 85% of eligible goods benefitting from lower tariffs, generating impressive growth in some exports; for instance, wine, pharmaceuticals and skin-care products.
Premier Li and I agreed this morning to press ahead with the next phase of ChAFTA implementation by commencing this year discussions on further liberalisation of services and investment.
Today, our two governments have signed an agreement enabling better access to the Chinese market for Australian meat producers and exporters, including for high-quality Australian beef, and offering better choice for Chinese consumers.
Premier Li has brought a high-level business delegation to Australia and I look forward to participating with him in talks with senior Australian and Chinese business leaders at the sixth CEO Roundtable in Sydney. Significant commercial arrangements are being signed during the visit demonstrating business confidence in the relationship.
Eight of China’s Provincial Governors are also visiting Australia for joint talks with the States and Territories, including six State Premiers and representatives from two Territories. Premier Li and I will join those talks later today.
We continue to build the architecture that underpins the relationship. Premier Li and I have agreed to establish a ministerial dialogue on energy as well as high-level dialogues on innovation and security.
To promote more exchanges between Australians and Chinese we are strengthening cooperation in areas such as vocational education and training and cultural exchange. We have also committed to supporting activities celebrating the Australia-China Year of Tourism 2017.
And I am pleased to announce that Australia will open a new Consulate in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, bringing the number of Australian diplomatic and consular posts in mainland China to five.
All of this adds significant new ballast to what is already a key bilateral relationship for both of our countries.