News Release D63

22 July 1997

 

AUSTRALIA-CHINA JOINT MINISTERIAL ECONOMIC COMMISSION MEETING

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade today announced that the Intersessional Meeting of the Ninth Joint Ministerial Economic Commission (JMEC) between Australia and the People's Republic of China (PRC) will be held in Canberra on 23 July.

The talks will focus on the bilateral trade and investment relationship. Among topics for discussion will be further cooperation in the wool industry, investment promotion, market access issues (including in the context of China's accession to the World Trade Organisation), and how the JMEC process itself may be made more effective.

The talks will reflect the importance of the relationship: China is already Australia's fifth largest trading partner, and by the year 2000, at current rates of growth, could be our third. Australia's trade with China is growing faster than with any other of our major trading partners - exports to China increased by nearly 25 percent to $A 3.9 billion in 1996. China is also a sign)ficant source of foreign investment in Australia.

The JMEC, established in 1986, is an important element in an expanding web of bilateral consultations between Australia and China, which cover areas as diverse as consular matters. defence, disarmament and regional security, and human rights.

The Intersessional Meeting comes after the agreement reached between the Prime Minister and Chinese Premier Li Peng during Mr Howard's visit to China in March-April to reinvigorate the JMEC process, and to ensure that it meets regularly at ministerial level every two years, and at vice-ministerial (Secretary/Deputy Secretary) level every other year.

The Australian delegation will be led by the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Philip Flood AO, and the Chinese delegation by Mr Shi Guangsheng, Senior Vice Minister of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation.