CHINA AUSTRALIA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT: CFMEU CAMPAIGN

The minerals sector is disappointed that the Federal Opposition has associated itself with a scaremongering CFMEU campaign against the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).

The trade agreement with China is an unambiguously good deal for Australia.  It is a high quality agreement that will deliver stronger economic growth, more jobs and better living standards.

China is already Australia's largest trading partner, with Australian exports to China accounting for nearly 6 per cent of Australia's GDP.  The trade agreement will further deepen and broaden that economic relationship.

In the case of the minerals sector, the agreement will eliminate tariffs that add nearly $600 million in costs to the bilateral minerals and energy trade including about $380 million for exporters of thermal and metallurgical coal.

Any delay to the entry-into-force of the agreement will cost Australia dearly.

China's minerals and energy tariffs currently add around $20 million per month to the costs of Australian exporters.

An extended delay will simply advantage our competitors in the Chinese market.  This includes Indonesia whose thermal coal exports enter China tariff free courtesy of an earlier FTA while Australian thermal coal exports face a 6 per cent tariff impost.

There is no substance to the claim that the deal will cost Australian jobs.

The relevant provisions are identical to those included in previous trade agreements by successive Australian Governments. 

The CFMEU has failed to explain why these provisions are appropriate for other economic partners but not Australia's largest trading partner.

The arrangements are also subject to the protections contained in temporary skill migration under the 457 Visa rules.

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