South Australia has urged Canberra to “get on with” the Australia-China free trade agreement (FTA) as the state signs major new trade deals with the Chinese province of Shandong.
Despite the federal opposition’s concerns, Labor Premier Jay Weatherill wants the deal settled as soon as possible to grow jobs and send a positive message to the nation’s largest trading partner.
“I do want the federal parliament to deal with this urgently,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“We want to send the clearest possible message (to China) that they’re welcome, their trade is welcome, their investments welcome.”
He said it should be possible to move forward on the agreement without the “hysteria” of political debate.
South Australia expects the FTA to particularly benefit the state’s food, wine, services and advanced manufacturing sectors.
Exports of meat, manufactured goods and wine have all increased over the past year.
“Our message to Canberra is to get on with it,” Trade Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith said.
SA will sign new trade agreements with Shandong province on Tuesday night as 150 key officials and trade delegates visit Adelaide, including party secretary Jiang Yikang, the area’s most senior official.
SA and Shandong were established as sister states almost 30 years ago as a way to foster cultural and business ties.
Mr Hamilton-Smith said such international government-to-government relationships opened doors in business.
“It’s presented South Australia as a doorway to Australia and Shandong as a doorway to China,” he said.
“So far already this year quite a lot of jobs and quite a lot of enterprise have grown from the engagement.”
He said the new deal would set out the continuing engagement between SA and Shandong for years to come.
“This relationship will provide South Australian exporters access to lucrative new markets, which will lead to a rapid escalation in export opportunities and job outcomes,” he said.