Australian Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb
Beijing - XINHUA
Australian Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb has called the recent Australia-China High- Level Dialogue (HLD) a truly worthwhile event, a ministerial press release said on Monday.
Robb said the HLD demonstrated a commitment on both sides to strengthening the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
The HLD is a new mechanism for engaging with China that resulted from an agreement by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during Abbott's April visit to China.
Robb, who travelled to Beijing earlier this month for the inaugural event, said the HLD involved close to 40 high-level delegates from both countries, and covered political and strategic matters, economic policies, international and regional engagement, and social and cultural developments.
"The Dialogue took place during a high water mark for Australia-China relations, following the successful visit to Australia by Chinese President Xi Jinping and the (substantial) conclusion of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) negotiations,"Robb said.
The minister said Australia was represented by a high-calibre group including leaders from business, academia, media, sport and science, and was led by former Treasurer Peter Costello, who co- chaired the meeting with China's former foreign minister Li Zhaoxing. "Looking forward I envision the High-Level Dialogue will be an important platform to facilitate a frank exchange of views on a range of relevant issues," he said.
Robb said the successful conclusion of ChAFTA negotiations was at the forefront of discussions.
"ChAFTA is a transformative agreement which will create opportunities for businesses on both sides, and it is a most appropriate time to be discussing the future potential of our relationship through forums like the HLD," Robb said.
He said both countries have undertaken to conduct respective legal reviews of the concluded ChAFTA text, and prepare Chinese and English language versions for signature in 2015.
China is Australia's largest two-way trading partner in goods and services, valued at 160 billion AU dollars (130 billion U.S. dollars), the country's largest goods export destination with 95 billion dollars (77.5 billion U.S. dollars) in 2013, and its largest source of goods imports with 47 billion dollars (38 billion U.S. dollars) in 2013. China is also Australia's largest services export market with 7 billion dollars (5.7 billion U.S. dollars) in 2013.