Australia and China Sign Deals Worth >$8,8bn


". . .senior Chinese leader urged closer trade ties."

Australia and China signed more than $8.8-billion of commercial and mining deals on Monday as a senior Chinese leader urged closer trade ties, in a sign that Australia's mining tax has not deterred investment.

China is Australia's largest export market, accounting for 19% of exports worth A$48-billion in 2009, including almost A$22-billion of iron-ore and concentrates.

China's Vice President Xi Jinping is visiting Australia and witnessed 10 agreements, including deals for the state-owned China Development Bank to finance several major mining projects, including a $1.2 billion loan for an iron-ore development.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who is fighting a mining industry backlash against the new 40% mine-profits tax, highlighted that seven of the ten bilateral deals signed on Monday covered the resources and energy industries.

"The Chinese are still active partners with all of our resource companies. There is a lot of good stuff going on out there," Rudd told reporters after the signings.

"It is important to separate the facts of what's going on from some of the fear that is being pushed by some companies who object to paying a bit more tax."

Xi, regarded as heir apparent to China's President Hu Jintao, later told a business lunch that China was keen to deepen bilateral cooperation on resources and energy, and was keen to make progress on talks on a free trade agreement with China.

The 15th round of free trade negotiations between China and Australia will take place in China later in 2010.

"We need to push forward the negotiations for a free trade agreement," Xi said, speaking through an interpreter. "A comprehensive, balanced, high-quality and mutually beneficial free trade agreement is in the fundamental and long-term interests of our two countries."

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