The Hon. M.L.J. HAMILTON-SMITH: I thank the member for Colton for his question because yesterday the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and the Chinese President, Mr Xi Jinping, signed the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement which we are discussing today.
It is a historic agreement. Many of its key areas will involve South Australia’s most important industries and our key export market, because China is by far Australia’s biggest trading partner and South Australia’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 28 per cent of the two-way trade, and this free trade agreement will build on this already substantial figure. There is no doubt that the China FTA will bring considerable benefits to our local economy, in particular for agriculture and seafood. In 2013-14, according to the ABS—
Mr Whetstone interjecting:
The SPEAKER: The member for Chaffey is called to order.
The Hon. M.L.J. HAMILTON-SMITH: In 2013-14, according to ABS figures, South Australia exported nearly $3.4 billion worth of merchandise to China, representing 27 per cent of all the state’s goods exports. South Australia’s trade with China has grown by nearly 52 per cent over the past 12 months and a future—
Mr Knoll interjecting:
The SPEAKER: Member for Schubert is called to order.
The Hon. M.L.J. HAMILTON-SMITH: —FTA will build on this growth. This growth, and the signing of the FTA, underscores the importance of South Australia’s market engagement strategy with China. Paul Evans, from the Winemakers Federation, has welcomed the FTA stating it will mean South Australian wine producers ‘are able to compete on a level playing field by value and by quality’. A range of South Australian sectors will benefit most from the FTA including:
- the services sector: with South Australia’s exporters of higher education and tourism services expected to benefit from the closer economic and political relationship with China that would result from the FTA, and which is followed up by actions initiated by this state government;
- wine: with the related tariffs scheduled to be eliminated in four years, our industry will no longer face import duties of nearly 50 per cent and, importantly, they will be able to compete on a level playing field with New Zealand and Chilean wines;
- meat: also due to lower tariffs that are on par with the New Zealand product;
- seafood: again due to lower tariffs, South Australia’s premium product can now compete with the New Zealand and Chilean product;
- investment: the raising of the threshold in the China FTA to over $1 billion is likely to add to the amount of investment that is already on hand to fund the expansion of the state’s mining and energy industries.
The China FTA could also result in greater opportunities in a number of mining service areas such as engineering, construction, mine safety, environmental management and mine site rehabilitation. The agreement is significant for Australia and I congratulate the Prime Minister and the federal Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb, for successfully finalising it.
The government will work in close partnership with South Australian industry sectors to leverage the benefits of the FTA, thereby enhancing our export, investment, economic growth and employment outcomes. We are reviewing the China and India strategies to optimise them. We are developing a South-East Asia strategy. We are waiting for the opposition’s contribution to that process. We are developing a North Asia and US strategy, along with an Atlantic strategy. If the opposition has something to contribute we would like to hear it, Mr Speaker.
The SPEAKER: The minister is not responsible to the house for the opposition.
The Hon. M.L.J. HAMILTON-SMITH: Thank you, Mr Speaker. In the meantime, the state government will get on with the agenda.