China trade deal 'on track for success'

MORE than eight years after talks began on a massive trade deal with China, Prime Minister Tony Abbott expected a deal within days, he said on Monday.

Mr Abbott was in Beijing for early meetings for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, telling press a deal was "very much on track for success" later this week.

After Trade Minister Andrew Robb earlier this year said a deal was expected to be reached by year's end, the trade meeting is the first official visit for Mr Abbott to China.

Mr Abbott told reporters China Premier Li Keqiang's comment of accelerating a deal was another promising sign that a deal could be signed later this week.

A final deal is expected to be signed when Chinese President Xi Jinping comes to Canberra later this week, among other visits from overseas officials during the G20.

The deal had previously been slowed by talks understood to centre on foreign investment rules and dispute resolution mechanisms for both parties.

It also follows an "economic agreement", or effective trade deal, with Japan sealed earlier this year disappointed Australian sugar and dairy farmers.

But it also comes after promising signs from China, including the first Australian fresh milk being sold to Chinese consumers earlier this year.

Labor frontbenchers on Monday questioned the benefits of the trade deal.

They argued such agreements should not be rushed into. Labor did not reach an agreement when it was in government.

- APN NEWSDESK



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