Free trade deals not just about growth, but also shared understanding: former Australian minister

Updated 2017-03-29 14:01:18 Xinhua

Free trade deals between China and Australia not only mean immense growth opportunities, but are also about building relationships of mutual respect between peoples of the two nations, according to a former Australian minister.[Special coverage]

“Real relationships are built on mutual respect. That involves not just doing business, it involves cultural exchange. It involves being aware in both countries of the strengths, and the culture, and really the personality of each country,” Andrew Robb, former Australian trade minister, said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

Robb noted that the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), signed in 2015, has made “huge impact” in the past year, and stressed that Australia can “take it a lot further.”

The former minister also said the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is crucial to the ongoing economic success of the region.

“That's (RCEP) nearly 40 percent of the world's gross income in those countries, hundreds of millions of people, billions of people in fact. If that can be completed, that will play a very big part in lowering the cost of doing trade,” Robb said.

“It will open up a competitive pulse that hasn't been there, and it really will add to growth in the region. Growth which is already strong, but it will add to that.”

“Those sorts of deals throughout the region provide a real impetus for future trade and investment,” Robb said.

Meanwhile, Robb said at the heart of any economic bilateral relationship is the shared understanding between not just the peoples of China and Australia, but the peoples of the Asia-Pacific, and the world.

“When you get to that point, life becomes a lot easier. All the big problems can be solved a lot easier, because there is this mutual respect, mutual trust,” Robb said.

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