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Special> Boao Forum for Asia 2013> News
UPDATED: April 8, 2013
Australia Eyes Conclusion of FTA Talks With China

Though talks on a free trade agreement (FTA) with China have lagged for years, Australia wants to finish them to further boost bilateral economic ties, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Sunday.

Australia wants to see a conclusion to the FTA talks with China, which would support further diversification and growth in the two countries' economic ties, Gillard told a press conference on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2013 held in Boao, a coastal town in south China's Hainan Province.

However, she said no official deadlines have been set for the talks.

Australia and China have complimentary economies, but the two economies have many industries and interests, so "it's not surprising that there are sensitivities on both sides that may continue to be worked through," Gillard told reporters.

China and Australia agreed in 2005 to start FTA negotiations, but a final agreement has yet to be signed after rounds of talks.

Australia is committed to building a stronger and more comprehensive relationship with China, Gillard said, noting that Australia will remain a reliable partner supplying the mineral resources and energy that China needs and the country welcomes Chinese investment.

"Now, we want to see our relationships strengthened to be taken to a new level, not just because of the importance of China to Australia bilaterally, but because of the role that China has to play in the stability and prosperity of our neighborhood and in addressing the critical global challenges we face today," she said.

The prime minister said she hopes for stronger and more structured high-level dialogue mechanisms between Australia and China that will provide strategic direction for the countries' ties.

She expressed confidence in Sino-Australian ties, saying there is every reason to be optimistic, as both countries have important roles to play in the Asia-Pacific region and are complimentary economically.

Gillard is scheduled to visit China from April 5 to 10. After leaving the Boao Forum, she will go to Shanghai and Beijing.

(Xinhua News Agency April 7, 2013)

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