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Australia wants trade deals with Hong Kong, Indonesia & Peru

Australia is searching out bilateral free trade deals with Hong Kong, Indonesia and Peru to take effect early next year, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said Wednesday, adding that the Hong Kong treaty supports its unique status within China. Trade Minister Birmingham introduced legislation into Parliament that would lead to Australia ratifying the three trade treaties.

Hong Kong student activists have called for Australia to write into the Hong Kong deal human rights guarantees, following widespread protests after the Hong Kong government attempted to legislate to allow extradition to China. Birmingham said the Hong Kong agreement “gives practical reality and effect” to recognition of Hong Kong’s separate status within China’s “one country, two systems” framework. Australia has had a bilateral free trade deal with China, its biggest export market, since 2015.

Australia’s bilateral agreement with Hong Kong largely modernizes and codifies existing trade and market access arrangements. A parliamentary committee that examined the treaty reported last month that it would provide trade certainty into the future.

Birmingham said he wants the Senate to pass the deals by December. The Indonesia government has told him it is working on a similar time frame, he said. Hong Kong and Peru already have completed domestic legislative procedures to bring the agreements into force, Birmingham said.


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